Evaluating a website is a necessary process when sifting through so much information. Because anyone can be a publisher on the Internet, it is important to consider where and who the information is coming from. The following information gives key criteria to evaluating websites before using any of the information that can be found within them. It is followed by an example site that was evaluated using the key criteria.
According to Wolfgram Memorial Library, sponsored by Widener University, authority, accuracy, currency, and objectivity are the for key criteria necessary to evaluate a website (Wolfgram Memorial Library, 2010). While each of these criteria has their own specifications they should also be considered together when evaluating the website.
Authority consists of the source, the establishing body, proper author qualifications, and the identification and qualifications of any parent organization (Wolfgram Memorial Library, 2010). Some of the issues that can call authority into question are obviously having any of these criteria missing and the contact information also missing.
The accuracy of a website can be determined by the detailed and comprehensive information, the recentness of an article, and it lists sources for its information (Wolfgram Memorial Library, 2010). The viewer should be wary if the sources are not listed or cannot be verified, the information contains lies or stereotypes, or there are no links for any outside sources used (Wolfgram Memorial Library, 2010).
The currency of any Internet material can be verified by the dates on the material it’s self, its source, and the copyright date of the website or material (Wolfgram Memorial Library, 2010). No dates, stale information, dead links, or material considered fact with no dates are causes for alarm when currency is concerned (Wolfgram Memorial Library, 2010).
Objectivity of the website includes being free of conflicts of interest, contains minimum bias, and separates advocacy from facts (Wolfgram Memorial Library, 2010). Many websites are the sources of advertising for a product of service. This can cause the information to be skewed to far in one direction for the consumer to perceive a balanced view.
The website that was retrieved for evaluation is one intended as a source for human service workers, students, lay persons, and social workers. The social service websites page gives a nearly all-inclusive list of links to information on many topics within the human service profession and other professions, abuse and neglect, human rights, healthcare, autism, and other mental disabilities for example. This website is a valuable research tool for anyone on any level.
This website was evaluated using the key criteria listed above. The following is the discoveries of the evaluation. This website rates one hundred percent in each of the areas of evaluation. The authority of the website is established on the front page. This website is sponsored by the Washington University in St. Louis. The contact information is clearly listed at the bottom of the page and there is a link within the text to contact a web administrator. The accuracy did bring some concern at first because the list is long and there is very little text on this page. However, the website does recognize the need to keep the information updated and because the field of study is familiar several of the web links were recognizable. The school website also listed dates for its copyright and a recent update date, so there was no concern for currency. Finally because the list is so long, it is in alphabetical order, and there are no direct advertisements the objectivity of this information is fair and balanced.
The information provided in this article is very important to evaluating websites. Authority, accuracy, currency, and objectivity are the key criteria that should be used in each evaluation. Each of these criteria have specifications but should be used together to determine if a website can be used a source of good information. An example evaluation was also provided.
George Warren Brown School of Social Work (2010) Social work and social services websites. Washington University in St. Louis. Retrieved October 30, 2010, from http://gwbweb.wustl.edu/resources/Pages/socialservicesresourcesintro.aspx Wolfgram Memorial Library (2010) Evaluate web pages tutorial. Widener University. Retrieved October 30, 2010, from http://www.widener.edu/libraries/wolfgram/evaluate