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ENG091: Preparatory Academic Writing

Library resources for the ENG091 student.

Why Evaluate Websites?

When searching for information on the "free web," you need to be critical.  Here are a few reasons:

  • On the "free web," anyone can post information, which can be unreliable and inaccurate.
  • The amount of information online can be overwhelming; there are currently more than 300 million websites in existence.
  • When searching the web, you get A LOT of results, many of which may not be relevant. 
  • Many websites may have an agenda, or may be trying to sell you something.
  • Search results bring varying results, only some of which may be relevant for your research.
  • Scholarly sources are usually not available on the "free web." They are located primarily in library databases. 

 

 

If you need help evaluating a website..  Ask a Librarian!

ABC Web Evaluation: Guidelines for Evaluating Websites

When evaluating websites or any other information sources, use the following ABC Test to help evaluate the information you find:

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?   Examples:
    • .com - commercial site
    • .edu - school or university site
    • .gov - government website
    • .org - for-profit or non-profit organization site
Note: Domains such as .ca (Canada) or .au (Australia) are country-specific domain names. It is not easy to tell what type of organization is behind these domain names so use some of the other criteria to evaluate the website. 
 

 BiasThe reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?
     

Credibility: The reliability, correctness, and believability of the content.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Who or what are the sources of the information?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?​
  • When was the information published or posted?​
  • Has the information been revised or updated?​
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?​
  • Are the links functional?​
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Beyond Google - Reliable Information Sources

Annenberg Public Policy Center

The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania has been" the premier communication policy center in the country since its' founding in 1993".  APPC’ conducts research in the areas of politics, campaign finance, children’s television, Internet privacy and the tone of discourse in Washington.

Frontline-PBS

Frontline is a PBS series that examines issues in public affairs. Each program has a companion web site including a transcript, in-depth reports and view comments.

Gallup.com

Polls, daily news, and public opinion on government, economics and politics.. 

Pew Research Center

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

ProCon.org

"Promoting critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, and primarily pro-con format."

ProPublica

"investigative journalism in the public interest". Browse for topic ideas under the "Investigations" tab or check the "Tools & Data" tab for graphics.

RAND

Rand's research is "rigorous and objective" with an emphasis on public policy issues. Regardless of the research sponsor, work is free of commercial, partisan, and ideological bias. Their research is peer-reviewed by experts inside and outside of RAND.

United Nations Global Issues

Created by the United Nations, this website offers an overview of global issues with links to other resources where you can find additional information.