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Nutrition 101 Research Guide: Evaluating Web Pages

Why Careful Evaluation of Web Pages is Essential


The Internet is part of our lives and we all use it - we depend on the Internet for all kinds of information: what is playing at the local cinema, what the weather will be tomorrow, finding the best route to a friend's, etc.

For college and university Internet use is more tricky.  You need to be able to defend a web page if you use it in your research.  The criteria to the right is intended to help you in that process.  

But it isn't always easy to determine a good web page even with the criteria checked off!  The following examples meet the requirements and yet they are phony:

Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division (DMRD) was created by a middle school student as a science project.  It has all the correct bells and whistles.  Can you figure out what is wrong with it?

Pets or Food - haven't figured out who is responsible for this one.

 The Ova Prima Foundation tackles the question: what came first, the chicken or the egg.

More Criteria Guidelines

Five criteria for evaluating Web pages


Evaluation of Web documentsHow to interpret the basics
1. Accuracy of Web Documents
  • Who wrote the page and can you contact him or her?
  • What is the purpose of the document and why was it produced?
  • Is this person qualified to write this document?
  • Make sure author provides e-mail or a contact address/phone number.
  • Know the distinction between author and Webmaster.
2. Authority of Web Documents
  • Who published the document and is it separate from the "Webmaster?"
  • Check the domain of the document, what institution publishes this document?
  • Does the publisher list his or her qualifications?
  • What credentials are listed for the authors)?
  • Where is the document published? Check URL domain.
3. Objectivity of Web Documents
  • What goals/objectives does this page meet?
  • How detailed is the information?
  • What opinions (if any) are expressed by the author?
  • Determine if page is a mask for advertising; if so information might be biased.
  • View any Web page as you would an infommercial on television. Ask yourself why was this written and for whom?
4. Currency of Web Documents
  • When was it produced?
  • When was it updated'
  • How up-to-date are the links (if any)?
  • How many dead links are on the page?
  • Are the links current or updated regularly?
  • Is the information on the page outdated?
5. Coverage of the Web Documents
  • Are the links (if any) evaluated and do they complement the documents' theme?
  • Is it all images or a balance of text and images?
  • Is the information presented cited correctly?
  • If page requires special software to view the information, how much are you missing if you don't have the software?
  • Is it free or is there a fee, to obtain the information?
  • Is there an option for text only, or frames, or a suggested browser for better viewing?
Putting it all together
  • 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!

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