Library Research Skills Tutorial About the tutorial
Using Resources

Evaluating

Previous pages have looked at techniques aimed at improving the relevance of the results you obtain when searching the web.

When you have located a relevant web resource it is vital that you properly evaluate it before using it in your research. This is especially important if you are using a web resource which has not previously been evaluated by experts (for example a resource catalogued on an academic portal). This is because:

  • Anyone can publish 'information'.
  • There are no official organisers, cataloguers or evaluators.
  • Websites constantly change.
  • Websites disappear without notice and new websites are contantly being created.
  • There are no standards for web search tools such as search engines.

The result of this is a considerable amount of inaccurate, out-of-date, biased and illegal information is available on the web.

Therefore before considering how the content impacts on your research, evaluate web resources using similar criteria as the other resources you are using in your research:

  • Is the website relevant to my research? For example, check the content is within the scope of your research
  • How authoritative is the information? Follow the link for further guidance on how to ascertain if a website is authoritative.
  • Is the website accurate? For example, check that the arguments are supported with independent evidence.
  • Is the website still current? For example, check when it was last updated.

Remember that if you use a website, or any other electronic resources, in your research you need to reference it and include it in your bibliography, for further help see the Referencing and Bibliography module of this tutorial.

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