Skip to Main Content

Evaluating Web Sites

Criteria for Evaluating Sources

The questions you ask of a particular source is based on your information need, i.e., context. This guide provides some criteria for students to use in evaluating the usefulness of web sites as research sources. Use these questions as a tool for your evaluation.


  • Is the organization or author(s) of the content an authority on the topic on which you're researching?
  • To determine authority, consider if the organization or author has a reputation for researching/publishing on the topic already. For example, a PhD in Anthropology may have a publication record. Or, you may discover the local newspaper for a given town has been around and subscribed to by locals for decades.


  • If you're familiar with the content you're reading, does the content resonate with what you already know? If it does not, or if you're reading a topic on which you're not familiar, can you find other authoritative sources that provide consistent information?
  • Are claims backed up with sources?
    • Note: not all sources provide bibliographies like peer-reviewed articles; if a news article, for example, did they provide where their information came from within the text of the article? Some news published online also hyperlink to sourced claims.


  • Based on the information you need, are you obtaining the most current information?
    • For example, if you're looking at the weather to decide what to wear for the day, you want to make sure you have the most current weather. But, if you're looking at weather patterns in 2010, you don't need the most current information! It all depends on your research needs.


  • Is there a bias to the information? While bias is not inherently bad, you want to consider the intent of the author/organization. Is there an attempt to persuade? Persuasion isn't inherently bad, but omission of information, misrepresenting information, and misinformation or disinformation are red flags.
  • Are other perspectives considered? It's important to at least be aware of bias so that you, as a researcher, can articulate that to your readers if you need to cite the source for your research need, as well as the need to continue researching to locate other perspectives.
Last Updated: Feb 7, 2023 2:52 PM