How do I screen a website for academic use?

SCREEN IT before you CITE IT!
Tips for Screening Web Resources for Academic Work

The web is a great tool, but it's important to know how and when to use it.

  1. Many Web resources are appropriate to use for your research.
  2. Many Web resources are not credible enough for your paper.

FORM---Look at the appearance of the site

Look for: Watch out for:
Correct spelling and grammar Spelling, grammatical or typographical errors
Updated appearance Outdated appearance
Easy access to contact information No/minimal contact information
Detailed "About Us" information No information about agenda or contributors

SOURCE---Look at the person or group behind the site.

 Look for:  Watch out for:
 .edu or .gov site Biased sources/agenda---Political? Commercial?
Known or credible person(s) or institution Created by unknown person or institution
Educational or informational site Advertisements/focus on making money
Linked to from reputable sites Not recommended/referred to by reputable sites

CONTENT---Look at the information contained in the site.

 Look for:  Watch out for:
Authors cite their sources Writing that is not supported by evidence
Authors are cited by credible sources No other reputable authors site this source or author
Current information, daily or regular revisions Outdated information, site is not regularly updated
Writing is clear, logical, orderly Thoughts or ideas are hard to follow, writing reflects personal opinion/bias/agenda

Where to look for quality Web resources: 

Internet Scout Report

ALA’s Reference and User Services Association, Best Free Reference Websites

Librarian’s Internet Index