Questions to Ask About a Web Page

Note: The greater the number of questions listed below answered "yes," the more likely the source is of high quality. The questions in Red Type must be answered "yes" for the source to be of value in your research.

Criterion #1: AUTHORITY

  1. Is it clear what company is sponsoring the page?
  2. Is there a link to a page describing the goals of the company?
  3. Is there a way of verifying the legitimacy of the company? That is, is there a phone number or postal address to contact for more information? (Simply an email address is not enough.)
  4. Is there a non-Web equivalent version of this material which would provide a way of verifying its legitimacy?
  5. If the page contains an individual article, do you know who wrote the article and his or her qualifications for writing on this topic?
  6. Is it clear who is ultimately responsible for the content of the material?
  7. Is there a statement giving the company's name as copyright holder?

Criterion #2: ACCURACY

  1. Are sources for factual information clearly listed so they can be verified in another source?
  2. Are there editors monitoring the accuracy of the information being published?
  3. Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and other typographical errors? (These kinds of errors not only indicate a loack of quality control, but can actually produce inaccuracies in information.)

Criterion #3: OBJECTIVITY

  1. Is the informational content clearly separated from the advertising and opinion content?
  2. Are the editorials and opinion pieces clearly labeled?

Criterion #4: CURRENCY

  1. Is there a link to an informational page which describes how freqently the material is updated?
  2. Is there an indication of when the page was last updated?
  3. Is there a date on the page to indicate when the page was placed on the Web? (If a newspaper, does it indicate what edition of the paper the page belongs to? If a broadcast, does it indicate the date and time the information on the page was originally broadcast?)

Criterion #5: COVERAGE

  1. Is there a link to an informational page which describes the coverage of the source?
  2. If you are evaluating a newspaper page and there is a print equivalent, is there an indication of whether the Web coverage is more or less extensive than the print verison?

Copyright Jan Alexander & Marsha Ann Tate 1996-1998
Copyright information: This checklist may be freely copied and distributed provided that 1) It is used for educational purposed only, and 2) Credit is given to Jan Alexander & Marsha Ann Tate, Wolfgram Memorial Library, Wedener University, Chester, PA.
Compiled by J. Alexander & M. Tate: July 1996
Last Revised: 12 June 1998