All websites should be evaluated for a number of different criteria (see below). Evaluation is especially important for using web sources for research assignments, but it is also of course important to view websites critically even if your research is only for personal purposes. The websites listed below are grouped according to subject matter and are a mix of government agencies, educational entities, and professional associations.
Ask the following questions to determine if the source is high quality and worth using.
Currency - Is the information up-to-date? Just because a webpage has been updated recently doesn't mean that all of the information has necessarily been updated. Cross check with other sources.
Accuracy - Current information is more likely to be accurate, but not always. Even if it is current, cross check with other sources.
Coverage - Does the website cover the topic thoroughly, and is it comprehensive? Be sure the source has the kind of coverage of the topic that you want before you decide to use it.
Authority - Who authored the content on the web page? What are their credentials? Are they an expert in the field? Look at the websites that link to the website you are evaluating. The more credible and authoritative those websites are, the more credible and authoritative the one you are evaluating is likely to be.
Host - Is the host a reputable organization or individual? (The government - with a domain of .gov - would be an example.) Pay attention to the website host or sponsor in addition to the actual author. For example, for-profit companies can have a hidden agenda that serves their bottom line of profit.
Objectivity - Does the information reflect an author's bias? If the author has a position, is it well reasoned and argued and supported by empirical evidence? If you are going to use a source that is biased, you also want to acknowledge any bias in your paper or article.
Relevancy - Is the information related to the topic you are researching? You may find something to be interesting, but make sure it has a place in your main argument.
Ads - If the website has a lot of ads, you may not want to use it as a source. The information may be accurate and authoritative, but the appearance may undermine its credibility. Many people might think the information is biased, even if it is not.