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WRT 200/205/208/220

A guide to support research assignments in 200-level writing classes.

Evaluating Web Pages

Here are some things you should look for when you are considering using a website as a source for a research paper.

Who wrote/put up the website?  If it is an individual, can you identify the author?  Do they have any credentials (like a degree or extensive work experience) in an area related to the topic?  If you can't find this information or the person doesn't have appropriate credentials, you shouldn't use the website.

If the website is sponsored by an organization, look for an about/information page.  Any trustworthy organization should provide information about their organization, its purpose and activities, and the people who run the organization.  Just because a website is a .org doesn't mean that the organization is a reputable one.

Is the website kept up-to-date? Websites that have been abandoned and are no longer updated can still get a high ranking on a web search.  Always look to see if there is a last updated date given or a copyright date.  A lot of broken links is also a sign that a website is no longer being maintained.

Is the content appropriate to college-level research?  For many general topics, Google and other search engines will return a lot of hits for sites aimed at a general audience or even children.  While informative, they are often very basic and don't have the type of sophisticated analysis that you need for your research. 

Is the website biased? Actually, this is a question you should ask of ANY source, not just online ones.  Many sources have a bias, rather than trying to portray both sides of an issue evenly.  This doesn't mean that you can't use a biased source.  You just need to realize which side of an issue each source is on and also find sources that represent the other side.

HELP VIDEO: Evaluating Websites

This short video talks about evaluating a website based on who put it up.

HELP VIDEO: Google Search Tips

This video shares a few tips for making your Google searches better.

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