Research in Art and Design: Evaluate Web Resources
Evaluating web resources
It is not always easy to determine if information on the World Wide Web is credible. However, the guidelines below will help you understand clues about the reliability of web resources.
Who is the author of this page?
What are their credentials?
Are they affiliated with an institution?
Does the site display this information?
What is the purpose of this page?
Does the author state the goals for this site?
Does the content inform, educate, persuade, or rant?
If the author is affiliated with an institution (government, university, business, etc.), does this affiliation bias the information presented?
Does the site have page sloppy layout, include misspellings or typos?
It's always a good idea to cross-reference information no matter where you find it.
Do graphics add or detract from the content? Is there inflammatory content?
Is the information complete or fragmented?
When was this page created? Is there a revision/creation date?
Do the links work?
Is the page maintained and up-to-date?
For more in-depth information on evaluating websites, see: Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask from UC Berkeley - Teaching Library Internet Workshops
About using Wikipedia
Wikipedia is a great tool for a summary of a topic. Wikipedia content is constantly revised, and entries vary in quality. Some of the content is excellent, some is very questionable.
Many educators frown on the use of Wikipedia. Why?
- Wikipedia content is not necessarily written by subject experts, and may be inadequate or incorrect.
- Articles in Wikipedia may be changed or deleted between viewings.
- For research papers, you need authoritative resources, so it is absolutely necessary to consult other sources.
- Anyone can search Google or find a Wikipedia article. To demonstrate academic skill, it is important to go beyond these basic tools.
How can you use Wikipedia in a way that benefits your research process?
- Scan the article to get general information and terms you can use as keywords for further searching.
- Scan the article for references. Sometimes these can lead you to excellent books or articles that you can find at the LCC Library or in the Summit catalog.
- Don't reference Wikipedia articles in your paper, unless you are pointing out something specific to Wikipedia.
- As you read Wikipedia articles, you may read notations that call for more evidence, or call attention to bias. These are very constructive principles that apply to your own work. What if Wikipedia editors read your work? Would they mark areas for revision?