Teacher Guide #1: Evaluating Web Pages

Just about anyone can create a web page on just about any topic. It is very important that students and teachers recognize that not everything out there is a viable resource. There are several things to look for when trying to determine if a web page is a viable source.

The following are the items you and your students should consider before using a web page as a resource (information here is adapted from the Evaluating Internet Information page by Elizabeth E. Kirk).

  1. Author -
    • Who is the person writing on this topic?
    • Is he/she an expert in the field? A professor or teacher? Or just someone with a little interest in the area?
    • Is there biographical information available?
    • Is the information in a reputable online publication?
    • Is there a bibliography? All information from academic or official sources will have a bibliography.
    • Unless the web page is part of a larger site (e.g. an encyclopedia or journal), there must be an author sited.

  2. Publisher -
    • Has an individual just put up his/her own site? Or is it part of a larger site?
    • Does someone evaluate the information prior to being published on the web?
    • Does this Web page actually reside in an individual's personal Internet account rather than being part of an official Web site? This type of information resource should be approached with the greatest caution.
    • If you come across a geocities or aol site, you need to remember that anyone can (and does) create web pages on these sites.
    • If in doubt of the source, try going to the base site (i.e. http://www.geocities.com). If this site ends up being just a web page provider, think twice about the validity of the information.

  3. Bias -
    • Who is providing the information?
    • Do they have any self interest in the way they present the information? Watch out for information on smoking from a tobacco company!

  4. Age of Information -
    • When was the information published?
    • There should be a date somewhere on the page, especially if the page contains statistics or other time sensitive material.
    • The age of some materials is irrelevant (like slave narratives).

For more information on this subject you may reference these resources.

For information about copyright and fair use, reference the following sites.

This page was designed by Dan McDowell for the Triton and Patterns Projects of San Diego Unified School District.
Last updated July 5, 1999.

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