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Hale Library: Website Evaluation

The CAPOW Strategy

C -- Current 

One thing to you ask yourself is "How current and up-to-date" is the information on this website?".  Some research topics (popular movies, recent inventions) require very current information.  Some research topics (the life cycle of a tiger) are not so dependent on up-to-date information, but the best practice is that the more current the information you can find, the better.  To tell the age of a website, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and look for the copyright date.  Sometimes the creators of a website will tell you when the website was last updated.

    

A -- Author

Another question to ask yourself is "Who is the author or creator of this website?".  Sometimes the author will be a person.  Sometimes the author will be a company or organization.  Quality websites will tell you about the author.  Look for an "about us" tab or link.  Once you determine who the author is, then begin to consider whether or not this person (or group) is an expert in the area you are researching.  If not, look for a different website.

P -- Purpose

The third question to consider is "Why did someone create this website in the first place?".  You want be a smart consumer of information, so think about the purpose of the website.  Is this website trying to entertain, persuade, or inform?  Is this website advertising a product?  A good place to look when contemplating a website's purpose is the domain.  This is the part of the website address after the dot.  The domain gives you great clues as to where and why this website was created.

  Means Example
.com Commerical Business nike.com
.org Nonprofit Organization goodwill.org
.gov Government whitehouse.gov
.edu Education unomaha.edu
.net Networking Type Companies cox.net

O -- Okay Content 

Another step to take when evaluating a website is to look at the information provided by the website.  Skim the titles and subheadings.  Read a little bit of the text.  Then, ask yourself "Is this information correct?" and "Is this information giving me both sides of the story?".  This is a very important step, but it is not easy.  And, sadly, most people don't take the time to double check that the information they are reading is trustworthy. One of the best methods of determining if you are getting correct and unbiased information is to look at more than one website.  Look at three or four websites on your topic.  If three of the websites say that President Obama was born in Hawaii, and only one of them says he was born in Africa, the odds are in your favor to believe the three that say the same thing.  

W -- Well Done?

Finally, look at the quality of the website.  You want your research and final product to meet high standards, so apply these high standards to the websites you use.  If a website is full of grammar mistakes, fuzzy pictures, or incomplete information, kick it to the curb and find a better one.

How To Know If A Source Is Reliable

Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to address inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).

Las Escuelas Públicas de Omaha no discriminan basados en la raza, color, origen nacional, religión, sexo, estado civil, orientación sexual, discapacidad , edad, información genética, estado de ciudadanía, o estado económico, en sus programas, actividades y empleo, y provee acceso equitativo a los “Boy Scouts” y a otros grupos juveniles designados. La siguiente persona ha sido designada para atender estas inquietudes referentes a las pólizas de no discriminación: El Superintendente de las Escuelas, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).