The web contains many hundreds of millions of pages, including everything from rigorous research to trivia and misinformation. The following information will help you in the evaluation of web resources
you’ve found and whether they are appropriate to use in your academic work, whether you can learn anything useful from it, and whether it’s going to gain you marks – or lose them!
Accuracy and acceptance
• Does the information appear to be accurate?
• Is it based on opinion or fact?
• Are additional references given?
• Can the information be verified from other sources, whether online or hard copy?
• Is the spelling and grammar correct?
• Is the content dated?
• When was the content last updated?
• Are all links up-to-date and valid?
• Are any areas of the site ‘under construction’?
Authority and coverage
• Does the content have authority?
• Where does the content originate from?
• Is it clear who is the author and publisher of the site?
• Are they qualified to provide information on this topic?
• Is the material biased?
• Can the author be contacted?
• Where is the content published? What is the domain name of the website? Is it published by a large organization, or on a personal website?
• Does the website cover the topic fully?
• Does the site provide information/advice/ideas/other choices?
• Does it provide links and references to other materials?
• If links to other materials are provided, are these evaluated or annotated to provide further information?
• Does the site contain any advertising? Does this influence the content?
Audience and relevance
• Who is the intended audience for this content?
• Is the content easy to read and understand?
• Is the site specifically aimed at children? If so, is the level and tone of the content appropriate?
• Is the site specifically aimed at adults? If so, beware of inappropriate material.
• Is the content relevant?
• Does the material provide everything that is needed?
• Could more relevant material be found elsewhere, for example in a book or magazine?
• Is there an explicit educational focus to the content?
• Will it support learners with different learning styles? How does it use media to cater for people with auditory, visual, kinaesthetic or other preferences?
• Does it have links, or refer to, the appropriate stages of the National Curriculum or examination body?
Ease of use
• Is the site easy to use?
• Is the site well structured?
• Is it easy to find relevant information?
• Is the content in an easy to use format?
• What facilities does the site provide to help locate information?
• Does it have a search facility? Is the menu navigation logical? Does it provide a site map or index?
• Does the site load quickly?
• Is the site attractive in design?
• Is the content copyright, or can it be used providing the source is acknowledged?
• Is the site technically stable?