Search engine results are selected by computer software, not by human experts. Use the following check list to carefully evaluate what you find. Click here for a PDF version of the checklist.
|Is there an author of the web site, as opposed to a webmaster?|
|Is an email address or phone number provided for the author?|
|Has the author stated his/her credentials?
Hint: Look up the author in a biographical reference source.
|Is there a sponsor of the page? If so, is the purpose and scope of the organization given? Is a phone number and surface mail address given for the organization, in addition to an e-mail address?
Hint: If you cannot tell if the site is sponsored by an organization, erase the address from the right down to the domain name. This should display the home page of the organization.
| Is the purpose or goal of the resource clearly stated?
Hint: Look for links that say "About Us" "Philosophy" or "Mission."
|Is there a commercial or organizational interest associated with the site?
Hint: Be aware that organizations, businesses, and individuals represent their own viewpoints in information presented through their websites. Organizations with a particular mission (e.g., Â environmental organizations) may publish only information that supports their point of view. Businesses may publish positive reviews of their own products and events. Also, be aware that a personal website may reflect strong political, religious, or social opinions of that individual.
|Is the information current?|
|Has the page been updated or modified recently?|
|Is an original copyright date posted?|
|Are the links on the site up to date?|
|Does the page contain correct spelling and grammar?
Hint: Only if the native language of the Web designer is not English should minor spelling and grammatical inconsistencies be overlooked. Spelling and grammatical errors point to lack of quality control.
|Can the information presented be verified with a print source?
Hint: Verify questionable facts, statistics, etc. with a reputable print source. Don't depend on one source for all of your information, especially if you are not familiar with the topic.
|Does the author use profanity or inflammatory words? Are there scare tactics, testimonials or overgeneralizations used on the site?|
|Are there advertisements on the web site?|
|Is the content biased or slanted? Does the author present both sides of an issue?
Hint: If the site deals with a controversial topic, look for an identification of the author's bias.
|Does the author provide references/bibliographies to support the facts or opinions expressed?|