Website Evaluation
Evaluating Websites
Anyone can build and upload a website onto the World Wide Web. To determine if a Web Site can be used as a resource in your research you should thoroughly evaluate its content.

Can you Trust These Web sites?

1. Evaluate

3. Evaluate:


How do I know I am looking at a valid website?

1. Begin by looking at the URL (the address of the website)

What type of domain does it come from?  What would be best for my project/question?   Some common domains:

    • Government sites: look for .gov, .mil
    • Educational sites: look for .edu
    • Nonprofit organizations: look for .org (though some .org sites may have misinformation or bias)
    • Commercial sites: there are many excellent .com sites, but you must be extra careful to check a .com website – anyone can register for one
Use the site search feature on Google – search only the domains you want!

Type your keyword, then site:domain

Example:  “Maya Angelou” site:edu

This searches only academic websites.

2. Who wrote the page?

Is it from a well-known organization?

Is the author listed?   Is he/she an expert?  Are credentials listed? (college degrees, M.D., etc)

3. Is the page dated? Is it current enough?

This is especially important for health/science/current issues.  Make sure to look for a date.

Classroom Assignment
I. Introduction
If you are like most students, you are relying heavily on resources from the World Wide Web for your research. Not all Web resources are created equal. If fact, there are great variations in the quality of the resources you access. The rule of thumb is "when in doubt, doubt." When you carefully select your resources, when you understand their strengths and limits, you create better products.
II. The Task
You will be working in groups of four to evaluate a group of Web pages on the topic of tobacco and smoking, or cloning. Each of you will be examining sites from a different perspective. You will be ranking the sites and comparing your rankings with other groups the class.
III. Resources
You will each be responsible for completing an evaluation chart, focusing on the perspective you assume within your group. Your teacher will select five of the following Web sites from one of these two controversial areas for you to evaluate:
A. Cloning sites:
Bioethics and Cloning
Ayn placeRand Institute
American Heart Association
Americans for Cloning Elvis
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Scientific and Medical Aspects of Human Cloning
Roslin Institute Online
B. Smoking and tobacco sites:
American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation
R.J. Reynolds
American Lung Association (Tobacco Control section)
Tobacco Free Initiative (World Health Organization)
Tobacco Free Kids website
Big Drug's Nicotine War
Phillip Morris Tobacco Company page on Youth Smoking Prevention
Children Opposed to Smoking Tobacco
 IV. The Process
Your group of 4 students will evaluate the selected Web sites. Divide your group into the following four specialties to cover ground more efficiently.
1. Content specialist:
·         Does the site cover the topic comprehensively? Accurately?
·         Can you understand what is being said? Is it written above or below your level of understanding?
·         What is unique about this site? Does it offer something others do not?
·         Are the links well-chosen? sufficient?
·         Currency: Can you tell: the date the information was created? The publication date? The date the material was last revised? Are these dates meaningful in terms of the subject matter?
·         Would you get better information in a book? an encyclopedia?
·         Would you include this site in your bibliography?
2. Authority/Credibility specialist:
Symb075c00b700f000000000Who is responsible for this site? Who sponsors it? Hint: truncate each section of the UR
      back until you are able to find the sponsor.
Symb075c00b700f000000000What are his/her credentials?
Symb075c00b700f000000000Have the authors of the site cited their own sources? Are the sources documented
Symb075c00b700f000000000What is the domain name? Does it end in .com, .gov, .edu, .org, .net? Is it a personal page?
Symb075c00b700f000000000Is that a meaningful clue in evaluating the site? (You can't always judge a web page by its
      suffix. Some commercial sites provide solid information. Some university sites offer less
      than-serious personal pages to graduate students.)
Symb075c00b700f000000000Who else links to the site
Symb075c00b700f000000000Would you include this site as your citation?
3. Bias/purpose specialist:
Symb075c00b700f000000000Why was this site created? (to persuade, inform, explain, sell, promote, parody, other?)
Symb075c00b700f000000000Is it a personal, commercial, government or organization site?
Symb075c00b700f000000000Is there any bias? Is only one side of the argument presented? Does it appear that any
      information is purposely omitted? Is there a hidden message? Is it trying to persuade you or
      change your opinion? Is the bias useful to you in some way?
Symb075c00b700f000000000Can you distinguish facts from opinion?
Symb075c00b700f000000000Would you include this site in your citation?
4. Usability/design specialist
·         Is the site easy to navigate (user-friendly)?
·         Is there a well-labeled contents area?
·         Do all the design elements (graphics, art, buttons, etc.) enhance the message of the site? Is there consistency in the basic formats of each page?
·         Are there any errors in spelling or grammar?
·         Do the pages appear clean, uncluttered
·         Do the links on the site work?
Symb075c00b700f000000000Would you include this site in your citation?
Each student in the group should complete his/her own organizer through the perspective they are assigned. As you examine each site, record any relevant information in your chart/organizer. Begin to rank the sites 1 through 5, with 1 being the best. It may be easier to think to yourself, "Which are the two best sites in the set; which are the two worst."
Each group should select, 1. a secretary to take notes on group discussion, 2. a discussion leader, whose job it will be to make sure each member gets a chance to contribute and to lead the group toward reaching a consensus about the best and worst sites, 3. a presenter to present the groups decision to the class.
Be prepared to discuss/compare your group's findings and rankings with the rest of the class during the class discussion period.