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Westborough High School Library: Website Evaluation

Research assistance, subject guides, and useful resources compiled by your friendly librarian. Know what your librarian knows - find it in LibGuides!

Helpful Handouts

Things to remember

Remember to ask yourself the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and WHY evaluation questions when accessing information from an internet website.

Websites such as Wikipedia are not reference sources and should not be considered such when citing sources. You may use Wikipedia for background knowledge or to acquire further resources.

Civic Online Reasoning

Tips and Suggestions

Remember that these are suggestions and not set rules as the internet is constantly changing. This is only a guide, you must be diligent in your critical thinking to ensure that the information you are finding is vetted and validated by professionals. It is also extremely important to know who the AUTHOR and INTENT of the source. 

What to look for in a URL address (not absolute):


  • Gov – a government site; usually a reliable source, but can sometimes be partisan 
  • Org – a not-for-profit site; often a reliable source but open for purchase by anyone 
  • Edu – an educational site; a college or university, usually a reliable source
  • Com – a commercial site that charges to host information and is often for profit 

 Questions to think about:

1.     What are the advantages and disadvantages of using the internet for research?

2.     What is the difference between publishing material on the internet and publishing material in books?

3.     Do you ever do anything to confirm that the information you have found online is true and can be trusted?

4.    How do you know that the information has been vetted and validated by professionals? 



Evaluating Tips

It is important to think about the information that you are finding online.

Use the questions here to evaluate a source:


Is the information current enough for your topic?


Is the content relevant and useful for your topic?


Is the author or organization responsible for the website identifiable?

Is there information about the author or institution?


Does the author address various sides of an argument with no evidence of bias?


What is the intent for information (to inform, teach, sell, persuade, entertain or enlighten)?