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ENG 111

Locating and Evaluating sources for scholarly research

Websites: Evaluating for Relevance, Authority, Bias

Instructions: Read the information below and view the website examples. This will help you complete the internet searching portion of your research assignment.

There are many things to take into account when evaluating a website (or any source of information) to determine if it is appropriate for your research needs.

  • Relevance
    • What is the site about? Is the information useful to your research?
    • Does the site provide you with new information, or does it just restate information you already know?
    • Will this help you answer what you want to know about your research topic?
    • Is the level of information is appropriate for your research? Is it directed at a specialized or a general audience?
  • Authority
    • Who wrote this? Are they an expert in the field? Expert authors typically display their credentials somewhere on the site.
    • Are references provided for the information on the site? Credible sites should provide references for the facts and perspectives they present.
    • Can the information be verified? Look for quotations, data, statistics, or other facts that you can check against other sources. Key facts should always be verified to ensure they are accurate. You may want to read the works cited to verify that ideas have not been misrepresented or taken out of context.
  • Bias
    • What is the author's point of view or bias? Does the author or publisher's bias impact the reliability of the information provided?
    • Does the site include opposing viewpoints? This can indicate a more balanced information source.
    • Does the site use emotional languageprejudicestereotypesdeception, or manipulation? Avoid sites that use extreme or deceptive techniques to push their point of view.

Below are some examples of websites and how we would evaluate them using these three criteria to determine if they are research-quality.

Internet Research: What's Credible?

Information Literacy: The Perils of Online Research