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Wellness Promotion -- M.A.

Helpful research instructions, tips, and links for the graduate, completely-online Wellness Promotion program.

Evaluating URLs

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is a web address for a page or document on the World Wide Web. We can make some educated guesses (see the box at right for a warning) about the reliability of a web site if we know a little about URLs. 

Each URL (for example https://www.whitehouse.gov/get-involved/internships/), consists of an access protocol (http),a domain name (www.whitehouse.gov), and an optional path to a file or resource residing on that server (get-involved/internships).

The domain name indicates the organization responsible for the site (www.whitehouse.gov in the example above). The top-level domain indicates the type of site (gov in the example above).

The most common top-level domains and the type of site they indicate are:

  • com  commercial business or for-profit organizations
  • gov   United States government agencies
  • edu   educational institutions
  • mil    United States military organizations
  • org    non-profit organizations

Criteria for Evaluating Information

The following criteria are appropriate for evaluating information of any kind. Evaluation is especially imporant when dealing with information found online. Review the following criteria and answer the questions based on the web page you are evaluating. A high quality source with quality information will enable you to answer MOST of the questions with a "YES."

 

Authority

Defines  who created the content,  the individual or group's credentials/expertise and provides contact information

  • Do you know who published the source?
  • Is the author's name easily visible?
  • What are the author's credentials and are they appropriate for the information provided?
  • Can you find contact information?
  • Is the source produced by a reputable organization?

Objectivity (Fairness)

Content is balanced, presenting all sides of an issue and multiple points-of-view

  • Are various points-of-view presented?
  • Is the source free of bias towards one point-of-view?
  • Is the objectivity of the source consistent with its purpose?
  • Is the source free of advertising?

Accuracy

Content is grammatically correct, verifiable and cited when necessary

  • Is the content grammatically correct?
  • Is the information accurate and verifiable?
  • Are sources and references cited?
  • Does the tone and style imply accuracy?

Scope (Relevancy)

Content is relevant to your topic or research

  • Does the purpose of the source (e.g. research, statistical, organizational) meet your needs?
  • Who is the intended audience? Will information directed to this audience meet your needs?
  • Is the information relevant to your research topic?

Currency

Information is current and updated frequently

  • Do you know when the information was originally published and is the date acceptable?
  • Do you know when the information was last updated and is the date acceptable?
  • Are web  links current and reliable?
  • Do charts and graphs have dates?

 

**Adapted from the original with permission, Eastern Kentucky University Libraries.

When Evaluating URLs, Educated Guesses Aren't Always Enough

Making educated guesses about the reliability of web sites will only get you so far--you must rigorously evaluate web sites on an individual basis, be they a .com or .gov.  Thus, it is necessary to follow the criteria above when evaluating ANY website.