Tips for Evaluating Websites

Why is evaluation necessary?

As you probably already know, anyone can post information to the Internet. What you may not know is that most search engines make no distinctions about the quality of the information contained in the websites they locate. You must do the selecting. First, you must determine if the information you have located answers your question. Then you must determine if these websites provide good or quality information. If, after reading through these tips you still have questions about evaluating websites, you are welcome to contact one of the Reference Librarians. We are here to help you!

Some criteria for determining if information is valid:

Authorship/Authority

Can you determine who is the author of the information? Is this a person or organization whose research you can trust? Are they affiliated with a recognizable organization or institution? Does the website provide you with the contact information for the author or producer of the webpage?

Purpose (Bias)

Why does this website exist? Answering this question may reveal bias in the content of a site. Remember that the .com extension of a site's URL or address indicates the site exists to make money. This may influence the page's contents. This is not to suggest the content is all lies and intentionally misleading statements. Rather, the author may only report research favorable to one side of the argument or omit certain opinions. This subtle shading of the facts is called bias. A researcher must always be on the lookout for bias in sources, but this is especially true on the Web.

Appearance/Currency

Beware of abandoned websites! While the Internet may be an excellent source for up-to-the-minute information, it is also home to many outdated websites. Don't be misled by the words "Most Recent" or a blinking "New." And while you are looking for a date, take notice of other details. Is the information presented in a logical fashion? Are the words spelled correctly? Do you trust the research ability of an author who doesn't take the time to proofread his or her work?

For further information on how to effectively evaluate a web site, please visit the University of California-Berkeley Library's "Evaluating Web Pages" site.

The Hunt Library Recommended Websites

To assist ERAU students, faculty and staff in locating quality Web resources, the Reference Department of the Hunt Library maintains an index of evaluated websites with brief descriptions. These sites have been chosen with ERAU's focus on aviation and aerospace in mind. While we hope they prove useful to your research, remember that the Reference Librarians are also ready to assist you. Finding quality information is what we do!