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The Research Paper: A Manual for Monty Tech: Website Evaluation

Subject Guide

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Jennifer Jourdain
Contact:
Montachusett Regional Voc Tech School
1050 Westminster Street
Fitchburg, MA 01420
jourdain-jennifer@montytech.net
(978) 345-9200 x5125
Website

Evaluation of Website Articles

Evaluating Web Sources for ALL Information:

  • Author credentials: Are the authors' affiliation and credentials available? Open another tab and search for the author and/or the website.  Do you find anything? Can you find out anything about the website itself?  What is the purpose of the website and who/what is behind it?  To find out more about a website's leanings (left or conservative), go to mediabiasfactcheck.org or allsides.org.
  • Publication date: Is the publication date current so that you know the information is accurate or relevant to the time period?
  • Article length: If it is just a couple of pages, it is unlikely to provide in-depth coverage of the subject matter.
  • Review: Can you find out if the article reviewed by experts?
  • Audience: Who is the intended audience? Is is the general public (background) or researchers (scholarly)?
  • Objectivity: Is the article's subject treated objectively? Do you detect any bias? Is the article based on fact or on opinion?
  • Accuracy: Is there a bibliography? Can you research their sources?
  • Relevancy: Is there an abstract or introduction that provides a synopsis of the article? If so, read it!  Find out if it's relative to your research. Also, use Control-F to quickly browse the article for your keywords.

How to Use Information Found Online

Background Knowledge: Websites that meet the criteria above can be used for background knowledge.  

Scholarly Information:  Websites that meet the criteria above AND are produced by government agencies, universities, or research centers often contain useful information such as statistics, policies, reports and case studies and are considered scholarly.  These websites can be identified by the the following domains contained in the URL/web address:

  • .gov (government)
  • .org (organizations including charities and international bodies such as UNICEF and UNESCO)
  • .edu (education such as colleges and universities)

NOTE: Just because the website holds these domains, it doesn't mean that the information is automatically accurate or scholarly. The criteria for Scholarly Articles below MUST ALSO be met.

Scholarly Articles Have These Criteria:

  • Authors are experts.  They list their credentials and/or affiliations with institutions. Check the credentials and institutions if you're unsure.
  • Sources are cited.  There is also a bibliography at the end.
  • Editors are involved.  There is a process of someone else checking their work.
  • Purpose.  The goal of the article is to present research for further knowledge and understanding of the topic.
  • Length. These are long articles, at least five pages.
  • Language is sophisticated.  They also use vocabulary which indicates that the reader has some background knowledge.
  • Audience is researchers.  This article wasn't designed to be read by the general public.