Evaluating websites

The internet can be a rich source of information, but it can be difficult to find the right kind of information quickly and efficiently.

It's important that you are able to quickly evaluate any websites you'd like to use for your assignments. Here are the questions you should ask yourself to determine whether the website is a reliable source of good quality, academic information.

Who?

  • Who is the author/source?
  • What are the author's reputation and qualifications in the subject?
  • Who is the site aimed at? Is the site appropriate for the intended audience?

What?

  • Is the information accurate?
  • Is the information well written?
  • Is the material on the site covered adequately?
  • How does the site compare with other sites on the subject?
  • Does the site contribute something unique on the subject?

Where?

  • How stable is the connection to the site?
  • How well is the site maintained?
  • If there are links to other sites, do they work?
  • Is it easy to move around and locate information on the site?
  • Do illustrations, video, or audio add value to the site?

When?

  • How current is the information?
  • Does the site tell you when it was last updated?

Why?

  • Why has this site been created?
  • Does it have a particular political point to make?
  • Is the information presented in an objective, balanced manner?

Need more help?

The Intute virtual training suite is a set of online tutorials designed to help you improve your internet searching skills.

You can work in your own time at your own pace and there are quizzes and interactive exercises. Working through all the sections takes around 1-2 hours, though you might prefer to do one chunk at a time over more than one sitting, or focus on the sections of most relevance to your work.

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