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Evaluating Web Resources: Checklist

The following checklist is designed to help you assess whether a web resource is a valid source of information. There may be other criteria you would look for in addition to these. If you have any suggested additions and/or corrections to the checklist, please contact Sharon S. Chadwick.

The five W's of journalism and writing may be applied to the evaluation of web resources.  I have added H as well; i.e., How?

The Five W's (and 1 H) of Evaluating Web Resources
Ask Yourself
Things to Look For
Who is the author?
- credentials
- affiliation
- reputation

Is the author easily identifiable?
  • Link to biographical information
  • Email address or other contact information
  • Institutional affiliation and address/phone number
  • Domain name
  • Site you got here from (was it one you trust?)
What is the purpose?
- informative
- entertainment
- influence or persuade
- keep one current
- advertisement
- infomercial
- other?

What is the point of view?
- objective
- biased
- propaganda

What is the coverage?

What is the intended audience or level at which the site/page is aimed?
  • Statement of purpose or introduction to the site/page
  • "About us" link
  • Advertisements (obvious as well as hidden)
  • Domain name can give clues as to intended audience
Where are you?

Where is the information from?
- is it accurate?
- are there citations to original source(s)?
- bibliography or list of references?

Where are related sites - are there links to them?

Where can you corroborate or confirm the information presented?
  • Header and/or footer
  • URL -dissect it if necessary
  • Footnotes and/or bibliography
  • Links within the text or a list of separate links
  • Address and/or phone number
When was the page/site created?

When was the last update?
- is the page/site regularly updated?
- is there a place to send comments and/or suggestions?

When were links checked and dead links removed?
  • Footer for date of creation, updating, link checking, etc.
  • Contact info for page/site "meister"
  • Mailto: link for site/page maintainer
Why is this page/site unique?

Why is this page/site relevant?

Why was this document produced?

Why is there advertising or sponsorship for this page/site?
  • Statement of introduction or purpose
  • Information about the organization or institution
How accessible is the page/site?

How is the page/site organized?

How graphic intensive is the page/site? Do graphics add or detract from the page/site?

How do you navigate about the site/page? Is it easy?

How are hyperlinks indicated?

How long does the page take to load?
  • Navigation tools such as buttons, links, tables of contents, etc.
  • Colors of link text and whether they are underlined
  • "Mouseovers"
  • Organization guides such as tables of contents, directories at beginning of page/site, etc.