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BIO 177 Health and the Human Body : Evaluating Websites

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Reasons to Evaluate Websites

  • Anyone can create a website!
  • Pages can be created to advertise a product or disseminate propaganda.
  • Pages have varying levels of quality.
  • Facts and opinion can be mixed.
  • Websites may be out of date.

Things to Investigate

The ending of a URL can tell you what kind of organization has made the site:

  • .com (commercial)
  • .edu (education)
  • .org (organization)
  • .gov (government)
  • .net (network)
  • .info (information)

Dissecting a long URL tells you what the home page is and gives you a clue to the path one would need to follow to find your page.

For instance: https://www.cabrini.edu/about/departments/library/reference-and-research​

Each slash separates a page.

http://www.cabrini.edu/ is the home page.

about/departments/library/ brings you to Holy Spirit Library's page.

reference-and-research brings you to the library's Reference Services page. 

Though the above example is relatively straightforward, some can be much more complicated:

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/books-and-monographs/cia-and-the-vietnam-policymakers-three-episodes-1962-1968/index.html

Criteria for Evaluating Websites

Organization

  • Is the site well designed and functional?
  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • Is it searchable?

Authority

  • Is the author identified?
  • Are the author's credentials identified?
  • Is there contact information for the author?
  • Are the author's publications listed?
  • Are the author's associations listed?
  • Are the resources used for the content listed?

Accuracy and Objectivity

  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, or institutional biases?
  • Is the purpose of the site stated?
  • Is content presented as opinion or fact?
  • Is the publisher, sponsor, or host identified?
  • Do other websites or articles review the website?
  • Do other websites or articles review the author?
  • Do you see errors?

Scope

  • Is there an explanation of the scope of the site?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Does the scope match your needs?

Currency

  • How current is the information?
  • Is the creation date or revision date provided?
  • Does the currency match your needs?
  • Are there many broken links?