Evaluation of Web documents How to interpret the basics
1. Accuracy of Web Documents
  • Who wrote the page and can you contact him or her?
  • What is the purpose of the document and why was it produced?
  • Is this person qualified to write this document?
  • Make sure author provides e-mail or a contact address/phone number.
  • Know the distinction between author and Webmaster.
2. Authority of Web Documents
  • Who published the document and is it separate from the "Webmaster?"
  • Check the domain of the document, what institution publishes this document?
  • Does the publisher list his or her qualifications?
  • What credentials are listed for the authors)?
  • Where is the document published? Check URL domain.
3. Objectivity of Web Documents
  • What goals/objectives does this page meet?
  • How detailed is the information?
  • What opinions (if any) are expressed by the author?
  • Determine if page is a mask for advertising; if so information might be biased.
  • View any Web page as you would an infomercial on television. Ask yourself why was this written and for whom?
4. Currency of Web Documents
  • When was it produced?
  • When was it updated'
  • How up-to-date are the links (if any)?
  • How many dead links are on the page?
  • Are the links current or updated regularly?
  • Is the information on the page outdated?
5. Coverage of the Web Documents
  • Are the links (if any) evaluated and do they complement the documents' theme?
  • Is it all images or a balance of text and images?
  • Is the information presented cited correctly?
  • If page requires special software to view the information, how much are you missing if you don't have the software?
  • Is it free or is there a fee, to obtain the information?
  • Is there an option for text only, or frames, or a suggested browser for better viewing?
Putting it all together
  • Accuracy. If your page lists the author and institution that published the page and provides a way of contacting him/her and . . .
  • Authority. If your page lists the author credentials and its domain is preferred (.edu, .gov, .org, or .net), and, . .
  • Objectivity. If your page provides accurate information with limited advertising and it is objective in presenting the information, and . . .
  • Currency. If your page is current and updated regularly (as stated on the page) and the links (if any) are also up-to-date, and . . .
  • Coverage. If you can view the information properly--not limited to fees, browser technology, or software requirement, then . . .

    You may have a Web page that could be of value to your research!

Kapoun, Jim. "Teaching undergrads WEB evaluation: A guide for library instruction." C&RL News (July/August 1998): 522-523.

Found at:  http://www.library.cornell.edu/okuref/research/webeval.html





This ranking is reserved for the websites meeting all of the criteria- they are up to date, contain a wide variety of information that is accurate, are objective in presenting information, and has good credentials from a preferred domain.  This site is among the best on the topic.

A ranking for a very good website, that is up to date and accurate, but could be a bit wider in scope, or have better credentials.  This site is still very good, and has a lot of effort contained within, but is slightly lacking in one of the ranking criteria.

This ranking is reserved for a good site, containing many features of a good website such as being current, having a wide variety of content, and being objective in the presentation of information.  This site may lack the credentials of the higher rankings, or just may not be quite as current or have the amount of quality content contained within.  Still a good site, but not quite the caliber of the higher rankings.

Slightly better than the lowest ranking, but still lacking the content or effort of the higher rankings.  The site may have some good information, but could benefit from being better updated, covering more information, or being more accurate.  May or may not have good objectivity and authority.

A website that is lacking much of the effort required to meet the criteria, because of a lack of coverage, accuracy, or being out of date.  The source may lack objectivity and authority as well.  The site is probably not from a reputable source, and could use some more attention.