Instructions for Evaluating Web Sites

The basic rule for evaluating a web site (or any other source of information) is to ask five questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why?

  • Who?
Who put this site together? What are his/her/their credentials? Be sure to check the site for an author's credentials.
  • What?
What is the site about? What is its purpose? Is it a list of links to other information about the subject, or is it just another piece of information simply related to your subject?
  • When?
When was the site created and last updated? Good web managers and designers always include the date of the last update somewhere in the site. Information can become dated.
  • Where?
Sometimes you can look at the URL and get some idea. The server name extension can give you a clue:
  • .gov: the site is hosted by the government
  • .org: the site is hosted by a non-profit organization
  • .edu: the site is hosted by a college or university
  • .com: the site is hosted by a business
  • .net: the site is hosted by an internet service provider
However, don't assume that a site is good because the server has an .edu extension.
  • Why?
Why was the site put together? Does the person disseminating the information have a motive other than giving objective information?

(See our Evaluating Web Sites for links to sites with more information.)

Citing Internet Resources

Give essentially the same information as you would give for a print resource: author, title, complete URL, the date the page was last updated, and the date that you accessed it. If it is a part of a larger site on the topic, you might also want to list that site. Remember, your primary purpose is to enable your reader to find your source. The dates are very important, because the site might change or move between the time you cite it and someone else looks for it. Please visit the following page for more detailed information on citing sources: Citing Electronic Sources.

Revised: 5/01 by J.B. Graham

Helpful Links:

Copyright Information
Finding Articles
Is It Scholarly?
Plagiarism Information