How to Do Library Research

This set of pages has information on how to do library research. In all cases, once you have located sources, be sure to evaluate them, using the evaluation guides.

How to Evaluate a Web Page

How to Evaluate a Web Page

To evaluate a Web page (and determine if you want to use it for your research) look for:

  • Purpose: Why was the page created? To:
    • Inform
      For example: laws, regulations, and services (governmental sites--federal, state, local), available collections and services (library sites), available courses, programs, and services (educational sites). Warning Regarding Health Information.
    • Entertain
      For example: games, puzzles, pictures (with various ratings), books, magazines, gossip, information about television or radio shows, celebrities, fictional characters.
    • Share information
      For example: hobbies (genealogy, stamp collecting), fandom (actors, celebrities, shows)
    • Advertise/Sell a product or service (business/marketing)
      For example: almost any product imaginable from flowers to automobiles.
    • Influence views, beliefs, elections (advocacy)
      For example: pro/con {issue}, actual and parody candidate/ballot issue pages.
    • Provide up-to-the-moment news
      For example: current events, play by play sports, television and radio stations, newspapers. Related to advertising, because the pages want readers to continue accessing them or to watch or purchase another version.
    • Personal enjoyment
      For example: pages created by individuals (child or adult) who are not affiliated with any group or organization. These may have some or many of the above mentioned purposes (and occasionally provide excellent information and/or links to other pages), although most of them are for fun.
       
  • Sponsor/Owner: On what type of Internet provider or organization does the page reside? (Provenance.)
    • Government agency: federal, state, city, county (address frequently includes .gov)
      Governmental sites have "official" information. For example, the text of the Code of Federal Regulations or a bill or resolution is a primary source and is therefore a valuable resource. The law is the law.
    • Educational: University, college, high school (address frequently includes .edu)
      Educational sites give "official" representation for organizations that offer education. Courses, syllabi, faculty and staff, admissions information, libraries, etc. are detailed online for current and prospective students and parents. In addition, many educational sites have pages that highlight the faculty's research. Departmental pages (including the library) frequently have links to sites by subject--a good way to find pages recommended by someone who has expertise in the field. Educational sites may include pages created by students for personal enjoyment (see above).
    • Business/Company (address frequently includes .com)
      These sites are created to promote a company's goods and services; at an increasing number of sites these can be purchased online. Some companies have links to their annual reports. It is extremely unlikely that an official site will include negative information about that company.
    • Association: Professional, Trade, Entertainment (address frequently includes .org)
      Association sites are designed to recruit and provide information to current members.
    • News bureau: television, newspaper, radio (address frequently includes .com)
      News sites promote the network (shows), station (often the local news), or print publication. An increasing number of publications are available online only. Currency is very important. Sites online help researchers access news locally and from abroad.
    • Personal (Individual)
      These pages are created for the enjoyment of the creator and his/her family and friends. There are instances where a personal interest page will have information or links to information that is scholarly or otherwise highly credible, but remember, "any idiot can create a Web site--and has" so you must be careful when accessing these pages.
       
  • Organization and Content: Is the page organized and focused? Is it well designed? Is the text well written? Are the links relevant and appropriate? Are the links evaluated?
     
  • Bias--political or issue stance (of the author or sponsor): Some web pages have an inherent bias that will impact everything that appears on them. Is the author or sponsor:
    • left/liberal?
    • right/conservative?
    • center?
    • a political action (PAC) group or association?
    • a business
       
  • Date of Production/Revision: When was the web page produced? When was it last revised? How up-to-date are the links? Are the links still viable?
     
  • Usefulness: Is the Web page relevant to the current research project? A well-researched, well-written, etc. page is not going to be helpful if it does not address the topic at hand. Ask, "is this useful to me?" If it is useful, does it:
    • support an argument
    • refute an argument
    • give examples (survey results, primary research findings, case studies, incidents)
    • provide "wrong" information that can be challenged or disagreed with productively

Very important: does the page have an identifiable, respectable author and/or sponsor? If not, the page must be used with caution. Information found "on the Web" has as little credibility as information found "in a book" or "in an article." Vague ownership frequently means that it is not a credible research source. [The Web has less editorial control than the National Enquirer or other tabloids!]

  • Authority/author: Who is responsible for the page? Is the author an expert in this field? What else has he/she written or produced? Does the author provide an e-mail address? How accurate is the provided information? Is a bias evident?

  • What is it?
    • Web-only page
    • journal article; accessed either directly on the Web or through an index or other type of database (for example, articles found full text on Academic Search Premier)
    • government source; some "Web equivalents" are PDF files that reproduce the print version's appearance, page by page
    • text (or presentation software outline) of a presentation given at a workshop or conference
    • creative writing (poem, novel, short story)
    • e-mail message
    • listserv or usenet posting
    • school project
    • blog
    • wiki
    • library catalog record, etc.
       
  • Audience: To what type of reader is the Web page directed? Is the level appropriate for your needs? Is the page for:
    • general readers,
    • students (elementary, high school, college, graduate),
    • specialists or professionals,
    • researchers or scholars?
       
  • Coverage: Does the page cover the topic comprehensively, partially or is it an overview?
     
  • Illustrations: Are the graphics clear in intent, relevant and professional looking? Do the graphics add to or enhance the content?
     
  • Context: Information is contextual. Who, what, when, where, why, and how will impact whether or not a resource is useful to you.
     
  • Security: Are security and/or encryption systems employed when necessary?

See also Evaluating Books, Evaluating Journals, Evaluate a Movie, Video or Film Clip.

 (español)

¿Cómo Evaluar páginas Web?

Para evaluar páginas Web considere lo siguiente:

  • Propósito: ¿Por qué la página fue creada? Para: informar, entretener, compartir información, anunciar/vender un producto o servicio (Comercial/mercadear) persuadir, creencias, elecciones (defensa), proporcionar las noticias al momento, disfrute personal.

  • Auspiciador/dueño: ¿En que tipo de proveedor de Internet u organización se publica esta página? (procedencia.) Agencia de gobierno; de educación, negocio/compañía, asociación: profesional, entretenimiento, agencia de noticias, personal (individual) .
     
  • Organización y contenido: ¿Esta la página enfocada y organizada? ¿Está diseñada adecuadamente? ¿El texto está bien escrito? ¿Los enlaces son pertinentes y adecuados? ¿Los enlaces son evaluados?
     
  • Prejuicio—postura política o puntos de vista (del autor o patrocinador).
     
  • Fecha de producción /revisión: ¿Cuándo se produce esta página? ¿Cuándo fue actualizada? ¿Los enlaces están vigentes o son actualizados regularmente? ¿Hay enlaces rotos?
     
  • Utilidad--¿La página Web es relevante con la información actual?
     
  • Autoridad/autor ¿Quién es responsable de la página? ¿Es el autor un experto en este campo? ¿Qué más ha escrito o ha producido? ¿El autor proporciona una dirección de correo electrónico (e-mail)? ¿Cuán exacta es la información proporcionada? ¿Es evidente la imparcialidad?
     
  • ¿Qué es? Página-Web solamente, artículo de revista, fuente de gobierno, blog, etc.?
     
  • Audiencia: ¿A qué tipo de lector esta página Web está dirigida?
     
  • Cobertura: ¿La página cubre los temas detalladamente, parcialmente o ideas generales?
     
  • Ilustraciones: ¿Las gráficas son claras, relevantes y profesionales? ¿Las gráficas agregan o realzan el contenido?
     
  • Seguridad: ¿ Se emplean seguridad y/o sistemas de seguridad cuando es necesario?

Traducido por Awilda Reyes

Comment évaluer une page Web

Pour évaluer une page web regarder:

  • Objet

    Pourquoi a-t-on crée cette page web? Pour informer, divertir, partager des renseignements – vendre un produit ou un service (affaires, marketing) -Avoir un impact sur les opinions, les croyances, les élections (plaidoyer) - donner des nouvelles fraîches - se faire plaisir.
  • La provenance

    Qui est le commanditaire/propriétaire de la page ?
    • Organisme gouvernemental: Federal, d'Etat, de la ville, du comté, ( l'adresse inclut fréquemment ".gov").
    • Educatif :Université, collège, lycée (l' adresse inclut fréquemment ".edu")
    • Commercial, compagnies (l'adresse inclut fréquemment ".com")
    • Associations:professions libérales, commerce, industrie du spectacle
    • Media : télévision, journaux, radio
    • Personnel (individuel)
  • Organisation et contenu

    La page est-elle organisée et au point? Est-elle bien conçue? Les liens sont-ils pertinents et appropriés? A-t-on évalué les liens?
  • Tendances -  prises de position politiques

    (de l’auteur ou du promoteur)
  • Date de production/révision

    Quand la page Web a-t-elle été produite? Quand a-t-elle été revisée pour la dernière fois ? Les liens sont-ils a jour? Les liens sont-ils encore viables?
  • Utilité

    Cette page web a-t-elle rapport au projet de recherche en question?
  • L'Auteur

    Qui est responsable de la page? L'auteur est-il un expert dans ce domaine? Qu'a-t-il (elle) produit ou écrit d'autre? L'auteur fournit-il une adresse électronique? Quel degré de précision, peut-on esperer de ces informations ?
  • Qu’est-ce que c’est?

    Juste une page web? Un article de revue? Une source gouvernementale? Un blog etc…?
  • Audience:

    A quel genre de lecteur cette page web s’adresse-t-elle? Le niveau du livre satisfera -t-il vos besoins? Le livre est-il pour:
    • L'ensemble des lecteurs,
    • Les étudiants (Lycées, collèges, universités),
    • Spécialistes ou professionnels,
    • Chercheurs ou universitaires?
  • Etendue

    La page aborde-t-elle le sujet largement, partiellement ou n'est ce qu'une vue d'ensemble?
  • Illustrations

    Le graphisme est-il clair et pertinent, a propos et professionnel? Ajoute-t-il au contenu ou le met-il en valeur?
  • Sécurité

    Des systèmes de sécurit‚ ou d'encodage sont-ils utilisés si besoin est?

Traduit par Michele Nelson

How to Evaluate a Web Page [Summary]

To evaluate a Web page look for:

  • Purpose: Why was the page created? To: Inform; Entertain; Share information; Advertise/Sell a product or service (business/marketing); Influence views, beliefs, elections (advocacy); Provide up-to-the-moment news; Personal enjoyment.
     
  • Sponsor/Owner: On what type of Internet provider or organization does the page reside? (Provenance.) Government agency; Educational; Business/Company; Association: Professional, Trade, Entertainment; News bureau; Personal (Individual).
     
  • Organization and Content: Is the page organized and focused? Is it well designed? Is the text well written? Are the links relevant and appropriate? Are the links evaluated?
     
  • Bias--political or issue stance (of the author or sponsor).
     
  • Date of Production/Revision: When was the Web page produced? When was it last revised? How up-to-date are the links? Are the links still viable?
     
  • Usefulness: Is the Web page relevant to the current research project?
     
  • Authority/author Who is responsible for the page? Is the author an expert in this field? What else has he/she written or produced? Does the author provide an e-mail address? How accurate is the provided information? Is a bias evident?
     
  • What is it? Web-only page, journal article, government source, blog, etc.?
     
  • Audience: To what type of reader is the Web page directed?
     
  • Coverage: Does the page cover the topic comprehensively, partially or is it an overview?
     
  • Illustrations: Are the graphics clear in intent, relevant and professional looking? Do the graphics add to or enhance the content?
     
  • Context: Information is contextual. Who, what, when, where, why, and how will impact whether or not a resource is useful to you.
     
  • Security Are security and/or encryption systems employed when necessary?

Author Information

Content: Naomi Lederer

URL: https://libguides.colostate.edu/howtodo | Print Page