English 12 - Research

All the tools and tips you will need to successfully complete your 12B research project!


Website Evaluation

Have you seen the cartoon showing a dog sitting at a computer monitor?  The message: anyone can post anything they want on the Web! This is a weaknesses and a strength. It is a strength because the Internet allows everyone to have a voice and it supports the democratic principle of free speech. At the same time, this is a weakness because it means people without qualifications, without knowledge can post information on the Internet. The burden for website evaluation rests with the user.

When reviewing a website and determining whether or not to use the page as a source for your academic assignments, consider these criteria:

  • Authority-always take time to examine who is behind the website. Questions to ask include:
    • Who is the website author?  Is contact information provided?  Are qualifications given?
  • Objectivity-determine if the website is free from bias. Consider the following:
    • Is the site promoting a particular perspective on the topic?  Is the information one sided? Who is the intended audience?
  • Quality-examine the website information and its sources. Look for the following:
    • Is the information presented supported by references and citations? Is the topic discussed thoroughly and completely?
  • Currency-quality sites are regularly reviewed and updated if necessary. Be sure a site includes the following: 
    • Date when the site was created and date when last updated.
  • Domain Name-a site domain provides a clue about the validity of the site. Check for the domain:
    • Government (.gov) and Education (.edu) sites are usually legitimate as they are associated with reputable institutions.
    • Organization (.org) and Network (.net) sites are sometimes usable, but evaluation is vital as they may be biased.
    • Commercial (.com) sites are often geared toward selling a product or service and are often not good academic sources.

Explore these websites for more information on evaluating websites:

Subject directories are lists of websites developed by librarians, educators and other content specialists. 

The great thing about subject directories is that the websites included have already been evaluated.  You can use these sources with confidence, though you do always want to critically review the material yourself.