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REA 091 - Northwest: Website Evaluation

The ABC Test: Guidelines for Evaluating Websites

When evaluating websites or any other information sources, use the following "ABC" test to help evaluate the information you find.  This checklist applies to any resource you may use for a school assignment, but keep in mind that some items are specific to websites.  Download an ABC worksheet.

 

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Has the information been peer- reviewed, refereed or edited by an editor?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?   Examples: 
    • .com - commercial site
    • .edu - school or university site
    • .gov - government website
    • .org - for-profit or non-profit organization site
  • Note: Domains such as .ca (Canada) or .au (Australia) are country-specific domain names. It is not easy to tell what type of organization is behind these domain names so use some of the other criteria to evaluate the website. 

Bias: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial? Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

Credibility: The quality of the information. 

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • When was the information last revised? Is there a copyright date or date the page was last updated?
  • Does the website provide links or citations to other reliable sources (experts in the field)?
  • Are the links functional?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a college research paper?

 

NW Campus Library Fall 2014; Adapted from Meriam Library, California State University--Chico and Central Library MCHS; updated Spring 2018