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Atlantic World History: Evaluating Information

Evaluating Web Sites

There are a lot of web sites on the Internet that may be relevant for your research. You need to be careful, however, as not all Web sites provide authoritative information.

Ask yourself the following questions when evaluating information on freely-available Web sites:

Who is the author of the page/site?

What are the credentials of the author (what qualifies him or her to write on the topic)?

Who sponsors the site?

What is the purpose of the site - To inform? To entertain?, To sell you something? To argue for a certain point of view?

Who is the intended audience?

Are the sources cited? Where did the author(s) get the information?

Can the information on the page be verified with other sources?

How current is the information?

Evaluating Web Sources

Why Evaluate?

Locating information, whether in traditional print format or in electronic format, is only the first step in doing research. The next step is to evaluate the quality and the usefulness of what you find.

Basic Questions


It is important to critically evaluate the information you use in your research papers. Use the questions below to help determine the reliability of your sources.


  • Who is the author/creator? Is this clearly stated?
  • What are the credentials of the author/creator?


  • How accurate is the information listed?
  • Is the information consistent with information found in other sources?


  • Is the information fact or opinion?
  • Does the author/creator have a bias?


  • Does the source clearly indicate when it was published?
  • Is the information up to date? If not, is it still useful?


  • Can you determine if the information is complete?
  • Is this indicated in some way?

Ways to Remember


Currency - when was the page written or updated? Is the info current enough for your topic?

Authority - who wrote the page? Is there eveidence that the author or oraganization is an expert on this subject?

Reliability - Are there references given for the info on the site? Is the info supported by evidence? Can this info be verified?

Purpose - is this info fact, opinion, propaganda? Is there a bias? Is the purpose to inform, sell, entertain, persuade?

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