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CMSD 3070: Website Evaluation for Communication Sciences (Finn): Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria

The top 10 items you retrieve from Google (or any search engine) will most accurately match your search terms, but that is NO GUARANTEE that they are reliable.  It's essential to apply evaluation criteria to every item you find, wherever you find it.


 Is the website authoritative?  (i.e. question authority)

  • Is there an author or sponsoring organization?
  • Does the person or organization present credentials or other proof of their expertise ?
  • Can you verify the information provided about the author or organization through outside sources such as a journal article, newspaper article or reputable website?
  • Is the author/organization qualified to speak on the topic?
  • Does the URL domain name look dubious? Can you tell what organization, institution or company hosts the site?
  • Do other webpages link to this website and are those webpages reliable?


Is the information reliable and substantial?

  • Does the site contain useful research-based information, or only opinions?
  • Does the research go into significant depth?
  • Are facts or statements footnoted where necessary?
  • Can you verify the footnotes and corroborate facts or statistics using a reputable source?
  • Is the information unbiased or does it take a particular position?
  • If a position is taken, is it advocated in a rational, reasonable manner, providing supporting, verifiable evidence?
  • Is supporting evidence used in an accurate, unbiased manner?
  • Does the site use manipulative techniques to influence readers? If so, what are they?
  • Does the site link to other reliable, reputable sources of information?
  • If it does link to reliable sources, is it using these sources in a fair and reliable manner?
  • Can you discern the purpose of the site or webpage? 


Are the links and information current?

  • When was the site last updated?
  • Are all the pages on the website up to date?
  • Does the information appear to be current?
  • Are all the links 'live'? Have some of the links moved to a new URL?