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Steps in the Research Process: Website Evaluation

Use this guide to become a more skillful researcher. Learn how to develop research questions, choose credible sources, evaluate your sources, cite them correctly, and avoid plagiarism

Evaluating Your Sources

Source Evaluation Checklist
Use this checklist to evaluate the information sources you discover as a result of performing a search.
 
Purpose
• What is the purpose or motivation for the source? (E.g., educational, commercial,
entertainment, or promotional.)
• Is it trying to sell you something? How easy is it to differentiate advertisement from content in
the source?
• Based on your knowledge, is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?
• Who is the intended audience for the information, and how is this fact reflected in the
organization and presentation of the material?
 
Authority
• Is the author identifiable?
• What is the author's background? (E.g., experience, credentials, and occupation, and has he or
she published anything else on the topic?)
• Does the author cite his or her sources?
Currency
• When was the resource last updated or revised, and how often is it updated?
 
Reliability
How stable does the resource seem to be? The resource’s dependability (particularly in the case of
Web sites) is important if it is going to be cited as a source or recommended for use by others.
• For Web sites, do most of the links on the page work?
• From your evaluation of currency and authority, do you think the resource will be there the
next time you visit it?
 
Coverage
• What information is included or omitted?
• Is the resource completed or under construction?
 
 
These are not the only criteria you will need to look at. Depending on what your professor has asked
you for and on your research needs, you may need to look for certain kinds of material. In academic
research in particular, your professor may ask you to find scholarly, peer-reviewed, or primary sources