Evaluating Web Sources

Author

Most reputable websites will list or cite an author, even though you might have to dig into the site deeper than just the section you’re interested in to find it. Most pages will have a home page or “About Us”/”About This Site” link where an author will be credited.

Once you find the name of the author, see what else you can find out about them, including their background in the area they are writing about. If these author’s qualifications are not listed on the site itself, search on author sites or in other sources.

Sponsorship

The sponsor of the site, the person or organization who is footing the bill, will often be listed in the same place as the copyright date or author information. If you can’t find an explicit listing for a sponsor, double check the URL: .com indicates a commercial site, .edu an educational one, .org a nonprofit, .gov a government sponsor, .mil a military sponsor, or .net a network of sponsors. The end part of a URL may also tell you what country the website is coming from, such as .uk for the United Kingdom or .de for Germany.

Purpose

Determine why the site was created and who it was meant to inform. For example, is it a website that was created to sell things, or a page hoping to persuade voters to take a side on a particular issue?

Relevance

Depending on the information you are using, the currency of the site could be vital. Check the bottom of the webpage for the date of publication or the date of the latest update. Most of the links on the site should also still work – if they no longer do, that may be a sign the site is too out of date to be useful.