Basic browser skills
To increase proficiency in evaluating relevant Internet resources
Anybody can make a Web page—and they do! How do you evaluate the sites you see???
A typical disclaimer by a typical librarian: While this page concerns the topic of evaluating Web pages, teachers should clearly indicate to their students that the Web is only one source of information. While the Web can be very useful for researching certain topics, it can be almost useless for other topics. To research a topic thoroughly, use a variety of sources--not just the Web.
Web evaluation techniques are being developed. While establishing evaluation procedures should be an ongoing process, the following criteria may be helpful at this stage.
Look at areas of a Web document for
pertinent information used in the evaluation process.
*graphic adapted from Yale Style Manual
Become more critical of the material you are exposed to--become "InfoCritical."*
- Are the sources for any factual information clearly listed so they can be verified in another source?
- Is the information free of errors?
- If statistical data, graphs and/or charts are presented, are they clearly labeled and easy to read?
- Is the author indicated (often in the footer)? Is the author the original creator of the information? Are the author's qualifications clearly stated?
- Is it clear who is sponsoring the page? If it is an organization:
- Is it a national institution/organization?
- Is there a link to a page describing the purpose of the sponsoring organization?
- Is there a way of verifying the page's sponsor? Is there a phone number or postal address to contact for more information? (An e-mail address is not enough.)
- If the material is protected by copyright, is the name of the copyright holder indicated?
Perspective or Objectivity
- Does the author have a bias? Does she/he express a particular point of view?
- Is the author affiliated with particular organizations, institutions, associations?
- Is the information provided as a public service?
- Is the information free of advertising? If there is any advertising on the page, is it clearly identified as advertising or does it look like informational content?
- Are there dates on the page (usually in the footer) to indicate when the page was written and last revised?
- Are there any other indications that the material is kept current?
- If material is presented in graphs and/or charts, is it clearly stated when the data was gathered?
- Is there an indication that the page has been completed, or is it still under construction?
- Is there a clear indication of whether this is the entire work or only parts of a print version?
FromNowOn.Org has developed a table as a "visual organizer" that helps focus the evaluation of sources. They have also developed a bibliography of additional information and resources.
Choose two sites from the following list:
Evaluating Web Pages: Links to Examples of Various Concepts by Widener University, Wolfgram Memorial Library
Evaluate and compare the sites on just two of the characteristics listed above. Post your response as indicated by your facilitator or as indicated on your assignment sheet. See assignment sheet for the due date.
*Jurek, Richard J. "Don't Be Fooled Again." Internet World. April 1997, page 48.