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Scrutinizing Web Sites: Top 3 aspects to consider

based on an article by Jim Kapoun*

Three criteria for scrutinzing web sites

1. Authorship & Authority

  • Is the page's author clearly identified?
  • What credentials does the author have?
  • Can the author or organization hosting the page be contacted?

2. Accuracy & Currency

  • Does the author back up claims appropriately?
  • Does the author cite/credit the works of others mentioned in the page?
  • If currency is important, when was the content created or last updated?

3. Objectivity & Coverage

  • Why was this page written and for whom?
  • Noting the domain name's suffix can help you put the page/document in its context,
    for example .edu, .gov, .org, .net, or .com can mean different aims or biases.
  • Is the page adequately comprehensive? If not, does the author provide leads to other sources?

Adapted from: Jim Kapoun's chart, which appeares in his article "Teaching Undergrads Web Evaluation: a Guide for Library Instruction." College and Research Libraries News 59, no. 7 (July/August 1998).

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Jane Forgay
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