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WRT 101 - Northwest (Sharp) Writing l: Website Evaluation

This guide is intended as a starting place for PCC WRT 101 researchers. It will provide suggestions and resources on locating sources for your "Persuasive Project: Entering the Conversation" writing project.

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 usefulness of the information. 

  • Is the information believable, plausible, likely, reasonable, persuasive?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?​
  • When was the information published or posted?​
  • Has the information been revised or updated?​
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?​
  • Are the links functional?​
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

NW Campus Library Fall 2015; Adapted from Meriam Library, California State University--Chico and Central Library MCHS