Skip to main content

ENGL 057 - Critical Connections in Reading and Writing - Voss: Web Sites

Google Search

The ABCD of Website Evaluation Chart

The ABCD of Website Evaluation: Evaluating Webpages for Research 

The ABCD acronym for evaluation stands for Authority, Bias, Currency, and Evaluation. This method will help you evaluate what kind of information the site is providing and to determine if it is useful and appropriate for your assignment. 

ABCD evaluation method

Click for questions to ask yourself

Authority

  • What should I look for?
    • Who is the author?
    • What are the author’s credentials?
    • Does the author have expertise in the subject?
    • Is the author associated with a reputable organization?
    • Is contact information provided?
  • Why should I evaluate? 
    • Websites are created for different reasons: advocacy, commercial, informational, marketing, personal.
    • There are no web standards for who can publish information on a subject.
    • If you can’t determine the author, how do you know the author is a whiz on the subject?
  • How can I tell?
    • Check the top and bottom of the web page for clues.
    • Look at the domain endings, is the site: .com? .edu? .gov? .mil? .net? .org?
    • Is this page linked to a main website for the author or organization?
    • Look for a page explaining the mission or philosophy of the author or organization.
    • Ask a Reference Librarian about the author/organization.

Bias

  • What should I look for?
    • Is the information balanced?
    • Is it more opinion than fact?
    • Is the page a presentation of facts or designed to sway opinion?
    • Is a product, service, or idea being sold?
  • Why should I evaluate? 
    • Goals and objectives of the author may not be clearly stated.
    • The web may serve as a place to make someone’s opinion public.
  • How can I tell?
    • Read through and scan the page to determine the viewpoint.
    • Is there a page explaining who the author is and his or her mission or philosophy?
    • Ask a Reference Librarian if the information is objective.

Currency

  • What should I look for?
    • When was the page last updated?
    • Are there any broken/dead links?
    • Is the information consistent with your knowledge of the subject?
  • Why should I evaluate? 
    • Pages with broken/dead links may not be regularly updated.
    • It is important to have some knowledge of the subject to know if the content is out-of-date.
    • Your research may require the most up-to-date information.
  • How can I tell?
    • Check to see if the author attributes information/facts to a particular year.
    • Look at the bottom of the page to see if the author has included a date.
    • The copyright year will tell you when the site license was last updated.
    • Ask a Reference Librarian to verify when it was last updated.

Documentation

  • What should I look for?
    • Is information documented with references?
    • Are facts supported with evidence?
    • If statistics are provided, what is the source?
    • Is the page free of spelling mistakes or other obvious mistakes?
  • Why should I evaluate? 
    • Anyone can publish anything on the web.
    • Unlike traditional print resources, web resources rarely have editors or fact-checkers.
    • There are no web standards to ensure accuracy.
  • How can I tell?
    • Verify that the facts, references, or statistics have an identified source.
    • Do you see any errors or misspellings?
    • Ask a Reference Librarian if the information you have found can be obtained from a more reliable source.