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