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Your professors expect you to provide quality citations with data that can be verified
Consider in Context
How many people died in Hurricane Katrina
Different answer found
The day of the hurricane
A week later
A month later
A year later
Think before using a 'fact' or a page
Who - Responsibility
Who is responsible for the site & content?
Are they reliable? Reputable
Can you find contact info?
Is their background available?
Is the AUTHORITY reputable?
Everyone has sites - even the Flat Earth Society!
What - contents
Scholarly quality? (bibliographies, etc.)
What is bias of site? (all site have some bias)
Does author show more than one side of an issue?
Spelling, etc. well done? Or site sloppy and unprofessional?
When - Check currency
When were pages written
Is date today on all pages? (automated, not real)
Should there be more recent information?
Why - purpose of site
Why did someone create the site?
To sell you something? Including an idea
To persuade you
To teach you
Who is the target audience - professionals, students, children?
How - Look, mechanics
How well does it work?
The design - no dead links, dead photos
Easy to find what you need
Any plugins necessary
(This may be the least important in terms of scholarship but extremely important in terms of usability and reliability)
Evaluation of web sites
Who - responsible for site
What - contents (scholarly, bias)
When - written recently - currency
Why - purpose (teach, persuade, sell)
How - does it work? Easy to use?
Finding and Evaluating a Web Site
A | Authority:
Who is responsible for the site and its contents? Is it verifiable? Does someone claim to be a physician, scholar, etc. Can you look them up to make sure they are? Is there a physical address for the site? Is there an email or phone number?
U | Updates
Is the site current or outdated? Look at a variety of pages, not just the first page. If every page is 'today's date' be wary that it isn't an automatic update from a computer.
P | Purpose
Who is the target audience and what are the objectives of the creator of the site? Are they trying to sell something? Are they trying to convince you of something? Is the site for specialists, beginners, scholars, personal friends or others?
A | Access/Design
Is the site technically reliable (links work) and is it aesthetically pleasing? Not only do links work but do they have an easy way to go from a lower level page to the main home page? Do the links work and are they updated as necessary? Is the site easy to print or email from? Do they use a white font on a black background which is hard to print?
C | Content
Look at the quality, bias, and scholarship of the site. Is the information verifiable elsewhere? What is the bias of the site? Every site has some bias (the library tries to get you to use quality information so the library is biased toward scholarly sites that include topics taught in AUP courses). What is the bias of the site you are inspecting? Be aware if it influences you and how. Are there scholarly works on the site? Do they give citations of reliable sources within articles and pages?