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Evaluating Sources: The ABCs: Home

Website Evaluation worksheet

Why Evaluate Information?

The ability to evaluate the information you find is a key critical thinking skill. This guide introduces specific criteria that you can use to go beyond a gut feeling that a website or article is "good" or "bad."  It is necessary to evaluate the information we find on the Web because:

  • anyone, anywhere can post anything on the Web, even people and organizations who do not have expertise on the topic being discussed.
  • it is important to find and use credible and reliable information from trusted sources 
  • many materials are not edited or reviewed by the appropriate authority before they are published

Use the ABCD method below to help you evaluate resources. 

Remember Your ABCD's

A is for Author

  • Who is the author? (individual or organization)

  • What expertise do they have?

    • Extensive education, advanced degrees in the subject 

    • Extensive work experience in the subject

    • Specific life experience that can provide a testimony or expert opinion 

  • Google the author or organization. What else can you learn about their qualifications or biases?

B is for Bias

  • Are there political, cultural, religious, etc. biases?

    • Exaggerations, overgeneralizations, stereotypes, emotionally charged language, misleading or omitted details. are signs the information may be biased. 

  • Is the info fact, opinion, or propaganda?

    • Facts are provable. 

    • Opinions should be backed up with evidence and should not be one sided. Opinions should come from experts on the topic.

  • What is the purpose of the website?  

    • To inform? To sell?  To entertain?

C is for Credibility

  • Where does the author get their information from? 

    • Are there footnotes, a list of references, or works cited?

    • Are the cited sources also from unbiased, authoritative sources?

  • What is the domain ending of the URL?  Here are some common domain endings and what they mean.

    • ​.com=commercial site (anyone can purchase and publish a website with a .com domain.

      • Usually these sites are selling a product (or an idea) or serve as someone's personal website

      • Be sure the information is not just endorsing the product or idea being sold, or supporting the owner's personal viewpoint.​

    • .edu= education institution like a U.S. college or university

      • Only U.S. institutions of higher learning can publish websites using this domain.  Be cautious of student work which may be published on these websites.

      • Example of a credible .edu site: https://poverty.ucdavis.edu/

    • .gov= U.S. government site​​​​

      • ​Only U.S. government agencies and organizations can publish a website with this domain.

      • Example of a government site: www.cdc.gov

    • .org=used by organizations, but any group or person can purchase and publish a website with this domain. 

      • We often associate .org websites with non-profit organizations, however anyone can purchase and publish a .org domain name. 

      • Many non-profit organizations have biases or agendas and they may present information in a way that supports their particular viewpoint even if that information isn't entirely accurate.  

      • Bottom line: DO NOT assume a website is credible just because it comes from a .org site. 

  • What do other sources say about this same topic?

    • Google the topic and compare several sources

D is for Date

  • When was the information published or posted?

  • Has the information been revised or updated?

  • Does your topic require very recent information? Do you need historical information?

E is for Evaluation

Use the ABCD evaluation worksheet to evaluate a website. Based on your evaluation do you think the site is a credible source?

  • Why or why not?
  • Will you use this website as a source for your assignment?
  • Why or why not?

Evaluating Webpages - Video

This video will show you how to evaluate a website, and how to avoid websites that just "look" credible.