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Competences: 23 Things Reference - Thing #2

Introduction to Thing #2

Let's face it - most of us use the internet to answer most of our reference questions. But how do we know we're getting the best and correct answer? First, we're going to do an exercise to get our brains to wake up. Use the information in this column to see what you should be looking for and considering

Please visit websites below and evaluate the sites. Save a Word document with your evaluations and email it to

How to Evaluate a Website?

Criteria for Evaluating Websites

Accuracy of Web Documents

  • Who wrote the page and can you contact him or her?
  • What is the purpose of the document and why was it produced?
  • Is this person qualified to write this document?
  • Make sure author provides e-mail or a contact address/phone number.
  • Know the distinction betwee author and Webmaster.

Authority of Web Documents

  • Who published the document is it seperate from the "Webmaster?"
  • Check the domain of the document, what institution published this document.
  • Does the publisher list his or her qualifications?
  • What credentials are listed for the author(s)?
  • Where is document published? Check URL domain.

Objectivity of Web Documents

  • What goals/objectives does this page meet?
  • How detailed is the information?
  • What opinions (if any) are expressed by the author?
  • Determine if page is a mask for advertising. If so, the information may be biasted.
  • View the web page as you would an infommercial on television. Ask yourself: why was this written and for whom?

Currency of Web Documents

  • When was it produced?
  • When was it updated?
  • How up-to-date are the links (if any)?
  • How many dead links are on the pages?
  • Is the information on the page outdated?

Coverage of the Web Documents

  • Are the links (if any) evaluated and do they compliment the documents' themes?
  • Is it all images or a balance of text and images?
  • Is the information presented and cited correctly?
  • If page requires special software to view the information, how much are you missing if you don't have the software?
  • Is it free or is there a fee to obtain the information?
  • Is there an option for text only, or frames, or a suggested browser for better viewing?

Putting it all together

Accuracy. If your page lists the author and institution that published the page and provides a way of contracting him/her AND...

Authority. If your page lists the author credentials and its domain is preferred (.edu, .gov., org. or .net. AND...

Objectivity. if your page provides accurate information with limited advertising and it is objectibe in presenting the information, AND...

Currency. If your page is current and updated regularly (as stated on the page) and the links (if any) are also up-to-date, AND...

Coverage. If you can view the information properly -- not limited to fees, browser technology or software requirement, THEN

You may have a webpage that could be of value to your research!!

From Olin & Uris Libraries at Cornell University.

Video Tutorial: How to Evaluate Websites

Article of Interest


After reading the information for this Thing, please respond to this question with an answer that is at least 2 paragraphs. Email your answer to

Explain the benefits and disadvantages of using Wikipedia as a source for research.

Thing #2 Survey - Evaluating Websites Feedback

Please visit this survey and answer a few questions.