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ENG-219 (Peters_Spring2020)

Literature and violence

Evaluating Information and Sources

ANYONE can publish on the Web! What you see are a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Evaluate each website critically before using it for your research.

Use these 5 criteria to evaluate the information you find on a website.
  • Who is the author(s)?
  • Is the author an expert on the subject?
  • Can you verify the author's credentials?
  • Is there a way to contact the author(s)?
Unlike traditional information sources where editors or fact checkers are involved, there are no rules on the web.
  • Are there obvious errors in grammar or spelling?
  • Are there references provided for facts presented?
  • Can you verify the facts presented using other sources?
The purpose of a website is usually not clearly stated. 
Numerous websites are sponsored by those who want to sway opinion, advertise, or just have fun.
  • Is the information biased or appear to be promoting a specific political, religious, ideololgical viewpoint?
  • Are both sides of a controversial issue presented?
Often no dates are provided, or if they are it is not always clear if they refer to when the site was first published or last revised.
  • Is there a date confirming when the information was published?
  • When was the website last revised or updated?
  • Do the links work?
Coverage of a subject can vary depending on the author's intent.  It may be brief or more in depth with links to references.  It may actually be a hoax or a parody. 
  • Is the information in depth or general?
  • Is the purpose to inform or is it just a joke?


Now, step  back and ask yourself...
What is the intent of the website? 
Why has this information been put on the web?
Does it all add up?
Is it appropriate for your purpose? Why or why not?

Scholarly - Also known as academic, refereed, or peer-reviewed journals

PopularAlso known as general interest magazines

Trade MagazinesAlso known as professional or industry journals, newsletters, or magazines