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LC Research & Presentation

Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages

From the Cornell Olin & Uris Libraries:

  • Accuracy. If your page lists the author and institution that published the page and provides a way of contacting him/her and . . .
  • Authority. If your page lists the author credentials and its domain is preferred (.edu, .gov, .org, or .net), and, . .
  • Objectivity. If your page provides accurate information with limited advertising and it is objective in presenting the information, and . . .
  • Currency. If your page is current and updated regularly (as stated on the page) and the links (if any) are also up-to-date, and . . .
  • Coverage. If you can view the information properly--not limited to fees, browser technology, or software requirement, then . . .

    You may have a Web page that could be of value to your research!

    Download the PDF here!

Validating Sources

Come on! Don't be lazy! These are advanced tools that can help you with this task. There is a lot of information out there, and it is your responsibility to evaluate the source.

Looking at the links:
Back link: See who is linking to a site to find out what groups value or follow this information. This can give you perspective on the quality of the information.
Go to AltaVista and start with link:, then type in the URL your are investigating. Leave no space before or after the colon.
Forward link: Hover your cursor over a piece of linked text of graphic. The arrow turns into a hand and a URL will appear in the status bar on the lower left of your browser. This will help you see patterns of reference. Is the site linking to one source, like Wikipedia? This can also give you perspective on the quality of information.
Meta Tags: In Firefox click View > Page Source > In the head of the html version look down for > meta tags to see how the author of the site is describing the site in a way search engines will locate the site.
WayBack.pngThe Internet Archive - The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public. Use "The Wayback Machine" to find sites that have dropped off the web.
WhoIs - This is very useful for getting information on domain registrations. Look up the registration information of a domain name. Who created it?

EasyWhoIs.pngEasyWhoIs - Look up the registration information of a domain name. Who created it?

Reading the URL

Being able to read the URL of a site will help you evaluate before you spend time working with it. The domain designation has information, as well as the grammar of the URL.

  • .com (commercial $)
  • .edu (education, most U.S. colleges)
  • .ac (academic institution not used in U.S.)
  • .org (any organization)
  • .net (internet – no specific designation)
  • .gov (government agency)
  • .net (network)
  • .mil (military institution - U.S.)

Indications you are on a personal page that should be scrutinized for bias, accuracy and authority.
Does the URL have a tilde: ~
Does the URL have %
Does the URL include a personal name
Does the URL include words like: users, people or members