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The World Wide Web has become a major information source. Since anyone can put anything up on the Web, it is critical to evaluate a Web site that you use for research to determine the quality and validity of its information. Use the five evaluation criteria described earlier in this lesson when reviewing Web sites. Remember to look at the URL extension (described in URL Basics in Lesson 4) to help you determine the type of site you are viewing.

Evaluating Web sites is an important step in gathering information for your research. The following examples of Web sites about Rainforests illustrate several different ways of examining Web sites.
  • Authority: The introductory paragraph makes it clear that this is a personal website and therefore has little if any authority.

  • Accuracy and Objectivity: The information may or may not be accurate. The author cannot be regarded as objective because she is in the business of selling nutritional supplements.

  • Currency: This page is copyrighted from 1999 to 2005.

  • Readability: The page is well laid out, with internal links, and a large collection of photographs



 

  • Authority: This is in the .org domain and is primarily a list of links to advocacy groups. The authority of each group would have to be weighed separately.

  • Accuracy and Objectivity: This is not a commercial site and has no profit motive. On the other hand, it is not truly objective, since it has the clear goal of reducing rainforest logging.

  • Currency: The links to "rainforest news" are not current. The most recent "news" seems to be from August, 2004.

  • Coverage: In addition to information on the main page, useful information is presented through linked pages.
   

  • Authority and Accuracy: This site clearly identifies the authors and their association with the University of Michigan. Authority is established, and information is probably accurate.

  • Currency: This information does not seem to be current. Most links are dated 1998. It would be better to find more current information.
   

  • Authority: A Web site about rainforests from NASA, the information can be assumed to be accurate.

  • Currency: The site is clearly dated Jan, 2004.

  • Readability: Very high, professionally designed.
  Test your knowledge - Take the Lesson 5 Quiz
Proceed to Lesson 6 - Finding Materials Outside the Library


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