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FRE/LINC47: Special Topics in Linguistics: Pidgin and Creole Languages

A guide to help students find resources for their final research paper

Evaluating Websites

It is very important to evaluate websites before including any information that you find in your essays. Here is a checklist that you can use in order to see whether the website is a reliable resource. The more "yes" answers you can give to the questions below, the more reliable the website.

 

Authority

Authority reveals the person, institution or agency responsible for a site has trustworthy qualifications and knowledge.    

  • Is it clear who developed the site?      
  • Has contact information been provided? This includes: e-mail address, mail address, phone number, etc.        
  • Is the site supported by an organization or a commercial body? You can usually tell by the website URL (.org is an organization, .edu is an educational institution, etc)?
  • Is the author affiliated with a known institution?   

Purpose

The author should be clear about the purpose of the information presented in the site.                                                                  Ask yourself: What is the purpose of the site and does the content support it?    

  • Does the domain name of the site indicate its purpose?    
  • Is the site well organized? 
  • Can you find information easily?
  • Are the links appropriate for the topic of the site?     
  • Is the information geared to a specific audience?    

Coverage

One author may claim to present comprehensive coverage of a topic while another may cover just one aspect of a topic.    

  • Is the site comprehensive?    
  • Are topics explored in depth?    
  • Is the web site valuable compared to others on the same topic?        
  • Does the site depend on outside links?    
  • Are the outside links relevant?        

Currency

It is important to know when site was created, when it was last updated, and if all of the links are current. This is because information can change very quickly. 

  • Is the date the information was first written given?    
  • Is the date the information was placed on the web given?    
  • Is the date the information was last revised given?    
  • Are the links up-to-date and reliable?    
  • Is the site still under construction?   

Objectivity

Objective sites will present information with a minimum of bias, without the intention to persuade.  

  • Is the information presented without a particular bias?    
  • Does the information avoid trying to sway the audience?    
  • Does the site avoid advertising that may be a conflict of interest with the content?    
  • Does the site avoid trying to persuade or sell something?    

Accuracy

Is the information presented accurate?

  • Is the information reliable?   
  • Are proper references given for the origin of the information?        
  • Based on your own outside reading, does the information on the site seem accurate?    
  • Is the information provided comparable to other sites on the same topic?    
  • Does the text follow basic rules of grammar, spelling and composition?    
  • Is a bibliography or reference list included? 

 

Adapted from Dalhousie University Libraries "Website Checklist."