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Tips for Evaluating Web Sites Pat Viele, Physics and Astronomy Librarian August 12, 2002.

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Presentation on theme: "Tips for Evaluating Web Sites Pat Viele, Physics and Astronomy Librarian August 12, 2002."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tips for Evaluating Web Sites Pat Viele, Physics and Astronomy Librarian August 12, 2002

2 The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2002 “Recent research estimates that there are more than 2 billion pages on the World Wide Web readily accessible by general search engines. The total size of the Web, according to search engine developer BrightPlanet, lies in the hundreds of billions of pages”.

3 You can find a web site on almost any topic imaginable. Some sites, like the next two are maintained as a public service by professional organizations: Association of College and Research Libraries and American Association of Physics Teachers.



6 Some web sites are just for fun!


8 Some, like this one from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, contain compilations of carefully collected data.


10 Jim Kapon. “Teaching undergrads WEB evaluation: A guide for library instruction." C&RL News (July/August 1998): 522-523. The following slides are used with the permission of the author.


12 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?

13 The indicates that the site is produced by a government agency. The information on this site from the National Institutes of Health would most likely contain reliable information.


15 2. Authority of Web Documents Who wrote the document and is he or she separate from the “Webmaster?” Check the domain of the document, what institution publishes this document? Does the publisher list his or her qualifications?

16 Although it isn’t possible to avoid bias completely, the New York Times has a solid reputation for fairness.


18 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?

19 A commercial site may exhibit bias toward the product being offered for sale.

20 4. Currency of Web Documents When was it produced? When was it updated? How up-to-date are the links (if any)?

21 This next site was last updated over a year ago. In all fairness, I noticed that the Department of Education put a warning on the page that it might be out of date.



24 5. Coverage of the Web Documents Are the links (if any) evaluated and do they complement the document’s theme? Is it all images or a balance of text and images? Is the information presented cited correctly?

25 Remember the difference between a “popular magazine” and a “scholarly journal?” Some sites can be very entertaining with lots of pictures, but have little or no “scholarly” content.


27 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), 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 by fees, browser technology, or software requirement, then... You may have a Web page that could be of value to your research!

28 The next slide illustrates how to cite a web site. Because the web changes so rapidly, it is important for the student to include the date he or she visited the site.


30 I urge you to ask your students to visit a web page and find the following information. title URL—what is the domain? Last updated Author’s name and credentials Is the information accurate? For good examples of worksheets go to

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