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Political Science Subject Guide

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CAPS Guide to Evaluating Websites

You can't believe everything you read, see or hear! Use this checklist to select the best.

Currency

  • Is the publication date noted?
  • Has the information been recently updated?
  • Are links from a web page still active and useful?
  • How old is the information contained compared to the publication date of the source?

Accuracy

  • Is the author/creator clearly identified? is she/he an authority in their field?
  • Is there any way to verify the author/creator's credentials?
  • Who is ultimately responsible for the content?
  • If you trace back the URL to view a page higher in the directory, is the sponsor or location of the site appropriate for the material contained?
  • Do you know who owns the domain name? Do a whois search to find out.
  • Has the source been rated/reviewed by experts in the field?
  • Can you tell where the information came from? Are sources cited?
  • Can you contact the creator by email if you have a concern?

Purpose

  • Is the information provided as a public service, to tell something, to educate, to convince you or for some other purpose?
  • Are ads present? If so, are they clearly separated from the information content?
  • Are opinions identified as such? Does the creator's affiliation or employment have any impact on his/her point of view?
  • Does the source provide a comprehensive/broad overview of a subject, or is it limited to a specific time period or narrower aspect?
  • Are several points of view included or is there evidence of bias and one-sidedness?

Suitability

  • Who is the intended audience, based on the source's content, tone and style?
  • Does this tone, level and content meet your needs?
  • Are the graphics helpful and easy to interpret?
  • Are there navigation aids to help you use the resource and locate specific information?
  • Does the site download quickly and the special effects useful?