Web Pages for Use in Research
Compiled by Michael Palmer, Faculty Consultant,
Teaching Resource Center
The World Wide
Web has become an invaluable resource for quick access to information.
In some instances, the material on a website can be useful in a research
project, but unfortunately, the vast amount of information on the web
is not research quality. In many cases the information is simply opinion,
in others it is bias or sometimes even advertising. The following is a
list of questions and a checklist of things to consider when evaluating
information on a particular website for suitability as a legitimate research
wrote the page?
you contact the author?
was the site created?
was the information last updated?
the links current and relevant?
sure the author provides an email address and/or a contact address
and phone number.
the distinction between an author (the one who wrote the information)
and webmaster (the one who posted the information).
for the date of creation and updates.
that the links are current and correct.
published the information or what institution sponsored the page?
the authors list their qualifications?
all sources identified and cited correctly?
who is disseminating the information.
the URL domain (.edu, .gov, .org, etc.).
for the authors' credentials.
for a complete, up-to-date bibliography.
is the purpose of the document?
is the intended audience?
goals/objectives does the page meet?
opinions (if any) are expressed by the author?
detailed is the information?
yourself, "Why was this written and for whom?"
whether the page is stating opinion, if it is a mask for advertising,
or if it is biased.
whether claims are supported by facts and/or data.
look for a complete, up-to-date bibliography.
it all together:
- If the web
page lists the author and institution that published the page and provides
a way of contacting them, and
- If the page
is current and updated regularly (as stated on the page), and the links
are accurate, and
- If the URL
domain is appropriate (.edu, .gov, .org, .net) and the page notes the
sponsor, lists the author's credentials, and provides a bibliography,
- If the page
provides accurate information with limited advertising, and it is objective
in presenting the information, then
have a quality web page that could be of value to your research!
Kapoun, Jim. "Teaching undergrads WEB evaluation: A guide for library
instruction". C&RL News (July/August 1998): 522-523. Adapted
by Todd Burks, Clemons Library, University of Virginia, 2001 and Michael
Palmer, Teaching Resource Center, University of Virginia, 2004.