Ask yourself these questions before using a website in a college-level research paper.
Relevance: Is the page actually about your topic?
Search engines don't look for context only occurrence
Accuracy: Is the information contained in the page accurate?
Or is it wrong?
Or blatantly false?
Or one sided to influence you?
Or an opinion presented as fact?
Can you verify questionable information from another reliable source?
Author: Is there a way to determine the author's credentials?
Is an author even listed?
What is the author's educational background?
Has the author published other materials on this subject?
Do you know what they seek to accomplish?
Scholarship: Is the quality of information scholarly?
Does the page include a list of references which the author consulted?
Does the document include evidence to supports its arguments and the conclusion?
Are there numerous spelling and grammatical errors?
Originality: Is the information presented new or just rehash of other peoples writings or links to to other pages?
If not original, are other authors given proper credit for their ideas?
Can you verify that other's ideas are properly presented?
Bias: Is there bias apparent in the information? If yes, this not necessarily a bad thing as long as you aware of the bias.
Is the page trying to sell you something?
Who is the author and are they trying to persuade you?
If the web page is published by an organization be aware they are presenting their point of view.
Currency: Is the information presented old or current?
Does the page list a date of creation?
Is it updated frequently?
Is the information presented current? This is especially important in science and technology.
Does it link to other sites with current information?
Audience: Who is the target audience of the site?
Grade school students?
Web address: The address of a page can tell you about the sponsoring entity or the author of the page.
.com=a for-profit entity,
.org=non-profit organization or a lobbying group,
.edu=an educational institution of higher learning
Links: Do links on the page work?
Do links take you to "Not found" pages?
Out of date or irrelevevant pages?
Material in this box adapted from a LibGuide by Rick Dyson at Missouri Western State University.