Cluster 80: Frontiers in Human Aging

Evaluating Web Resources

Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources

The World Wide Web has a lot to offer, but not all sources are equally valuable or reliable. Here are some points to consider.

Content and Evaluation

  • Who is the audience?
  • What is the purpose of the Web Page and what does it contain? How complete and accurate are the information and the links provided?
  • What is the relative value of the Web site in comparison to the range of information resources available on this topic?
    • What other resources (print and non-print) are available in this area?
    • What are the date(s) of coverage of the site and site-specific documents?
    • How comprehensive is this site?
      • Are the links relevant and appropriate for the site?
      • Are the links evaluated in any way?
  • How valuable is the information provided in the Web Page (intrinsic value)?

For discipline-based sites...

  • Does the site claim to represent a group, an organization, an institution, a corporation or a governmental body?
  • Does the site offer a selected list of resources in a particular discipline or field or does it claim to offer a complete list?
  • Does the site claim to describe or provide the results of research or scholarly effort:
    • What other resources (print and non-print) are available in this area?
    • Are sufficient references provided to other works, to document hypotheses, claims or assertions?
    • Are references cited fully?
    • Can the results be refuted or verified through other means, e.g., by use of library-related research tools?
  • Is any sort of third-party financial or other support or sponsorship evident
  • Is advertising included at the site, and if so, has it had an impact on the content?

Source and Date

  • Who is the author or sponsor?
  • What is the authority or expertise of the individual or group that created this site: is the site sponsored or co-sponsored by an individual or group that has created other Web sites; is the site officially or unofficially sponsored or supported by particular groups, organizations, institutions, corporations or governmental bodies; can the researchers, scholars, groups, organizations, institutions, corporations or governmental bodies listed as authors, sponsors or supporters, be verified as such, and what are their qualifications?
  • Is any sort of bias evident?
  • When was the Web item last revised?
  • How up to date are the links?
  • How reliable are the links?
  • Is contact information for the author or sponsor provided?

Structure

  • Does the document follow good graphic design principles?
  • Is there an element of creativity, and does it add to or detract from the document itself?
  • Is attention paid to the needs of the disabled, e.g., large print and graphics options; audio; alternative text for graphics; text only; non-frames and non-tables views of this site? How usable is the site?
  • Can visitors get the information they need within a reasonable number of links (preferably 3 or fewer clicks)?

Other

  • Are there links to search engines or is a search engine attached to (embedded in) the Web site?

Created by Esther Grassian, the UCLA Library, June 1995, and used with permission. 

Evaluating Websites Exercise

Compare these Martin Luther King web resources using the evaluation questions listed below. You will discuss your findings in Section.