Website Evaluation

Learning Goal: I’m working on a writing question and need an explanation to help me learn.

Website Evaluation (100 points towards Final Grade) – Due Week 2:

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Assignment Expectations: As part of your Research Project, the second assignment requirement expects students to complete a Website Evaluation of TWO websites that are acceptable for college-level academic research and contain information related to their research topic. For this assignment, students will use a search engine of their choice (e.g., Google or Bing) to find appropriate websites related to their topics. After selecting, reviewing and analyzing your two websites, students should write a 250-word analysis for each website. Keep reading to find out more about where to find websites for this assignment and what your analysis should include. As always, if you have questions, please feel free to reach out to your instructor via email.

But First, What Exactly is a Website Evaluation?:

There is a great deal of information available on the web and you can do much of your research from your computer. However, not everything on the web is suitable for academic research. This assignment will help you evaluate web sites that you find on the free web.

Before you start your Web Site Evaluation assignment, read the UMGC Library guidelines for evaluating Web resources, “Is My Source Credible,” to determine whether the contents are of high quality and acceptable for college-level academic research: https://www.umgc.edu/current-students/learning-resources/writing-center/writing-resources/evaluating-sources.cfm and then view their video “Evaluating Web sites”:

Transcript

Welcome to this Information and Library Services Tutorial on evaluating Web sites. In this tutorial, you will learn how to determine whether a Web site contains trustworthy information that is appropriate for college level research.

Many Web sites contain trustworthy information that is appropriate to use in college-level research. But because no one regulates information placed on the Web, there are also Web sites that you would not want to use in a research paper: Web sites, for example, with out-of-date, inaccurate or biased information.

Here are some questions you can ask that will help you critically evaluate information you find on the Web:

  • Who is the author of the Web site?
  • Does the Web site present information that is biased, one-sided?
  • Does the Web site present accurate information?
  • Is the Web site current enough for your research topic?

This tutorial will explore those questions in more detail.

When evaluating a Web site, ask yourself, who has written the Web site content? Are the author’s credentials given? Think about the author’s expertise and credibility. Knowing who wrote the content can help you determine the Web site’s trustworthiness.

You may find an author whose credentials are not given on the Web site. When that happens, use Google or another search engine to see if you can find information on the author elsewhere on the Web.

Frequently, an organization can be considered the author of a Web site. For example, the author of a Web site might be a business, a professional association or a government agency. You can usually find a link on an organization’s Web site that provides information about the organization—its activities, mission, leadership and so on. Learning about the organization can help you judge the credibility of the information on the organization’s Web site.

When evaluating a Web site, also ask yourself, does the Web site present information that is objective and neutral as possible, or is the Web site presenting biased, one-sided information? Depending on your research project, it may be appropriate for you to use biased information.

For example, if you are presenting both sides of an argument in a pro/con essay about the chemical industry and environmental groups, you could cite information from a chemical industry association and from environmental activists. But you need to be aware of possible bias in a Web site and use—or not use—that Web site accordingly.

When evaluating a Web site, you should also ask, is the information on the Web site accurate? Compare the information on the Web site with knowledge you have gained from other sources in the course of your research, to see if the Web site contains errors. For example, you might compare the information in a Web site with scholarly articles you have read in library databases, with reference books and so on. Also, does the Web site give sources for the information it presents, sources you can look up and verify?

Timeliness is another important factor, especially if you are researching a subject in which knowledge can change rapidly, like health and medicine, business or technology. Does the Web site date its information? If so, is the information is current enough for the topic you are researching?

You can find trustworthy, useful information on all types of Web sites: commercial Web sites, organization, government, education Web sites and so on. But no matter what kind of Web site you are using, you must critically evaluate the information it contains.

At our library Web site, you can find more information on evaluating Web resources. And, if you have any questions about your research, please contact us via Ask a Librarian.

https://www.umgc.edu/current-students/learning-resources/writing-center/writing-resources/evaluating-sources.cfm

 

Assignment Directions: After selecting, reading and analyzing your websites, please make sure each analysis follows the format below and includes the following information.

  • First, before you get started, please note what you should not do for this assignment. Please do not use the following types of sites:
    • UMGC library databases (in other words, do not use any resources found in the library database like Jstor. You will use the library for these resources for later projects)
    • Do not use Wikipedia or any other wiki site (in fact, refrain from using these sites for any part of the research project)
    • Do not use any encyclopedia websites (i.e. Britannica.org. These sites are wonderful for general knowledge, but not for the requirements of this research project)
    • Do not use any sites that require a subscription (also, do not use any of these sites for the requirements of this research paper.)
  • Okay, now on to what your Website Analysis should include:
    • Format: Each Website Analysis should be typed in a word document, with 1-inch margins, double spaced, and include no less than 250 words.
    • Bibliography: At the top of each Website Analysis, students should provide a complete bibliographic entry. This complete bibliographic entry should include a formal citation, including the URL and your date of access. You should note that the required style for this class is Chicago Humanities Style (not the author/date variant). The Effective Writing Center created a short overview on using Chicago Humanities Style called “Brief Guide to Citing Sources in Chicago.” It includes a list of sources formatted in this style. The examples labeled N=footnote/endnote format and those labeled B=bibliographic entry. A copy of this guide is located in the Writing Resources section of Course Resources under Content of this LEO class site.
    • Analysis and Content: Each Website Analysis should include a detailed summary of the main points of the article – in your own words. Ultimately, this should be written within the first two paragraphs of your analysis and include:
      • Describe the content and purpose of the website
      • Determine the author, accuracy of information presented and website’s currency.
      • Explain in detail how and why you determined the site is acceptable for use in an academic research paper
    • Each website analysis should explain how the content pertains to your research
      • Explain how the site relates to your research topic or what you found on the site that relates to your topic
        • It is important that students share more than a simple sentence in this analysis. I would like to see a paragraph dedicated to this portion of the assignment.