Mitchell Kapor said it more eloquently than anyone: “Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.” This rapid exponential growth of information across the Web makes it all the more difficult in determining website credibility. Our World Wide Web is a living, breathing, and constantly expanding phenomenon.
As teachers of critical thinking skills, it’s important for us to provide guidelines for students to use when searching for content to use in their projects. Determining website credibility is a big part of these searches, and quick reference charts like the one here can be a big help.
Whether for citations or research, our students need a strong grasp of Information Fluency for use in determining website credibility. The rubric below was inspired by a slideshow presentation featured on EasyBib which you can view here.
Website Credibility: A Quick Analysis
Whenever your students come across a resource they are interested in using, have them consider these 5 criteria which are included in the full rubric. They can then ask the questions to help them perform a quick source analysis. Not every criteria will apply, of course, but it’s good to have choices.
- Purpose: What is the purpose of the publication/media? What is the author’s intention? (e.g. sell a product, convince reader of an opinion, etc.)
- Accuracy: Can the content be traced to primary/trusted sources? What is the reputation of these sources? How experienced are they?
- Completion: Is the information/source complete and comprehensive? Is there anything important missing? Why might it have been left out?
- Design/Quality: Is this source/medium easy to use and navigate? Is it visually and aesthetically pleasing? Do the elements harmonize with the purpose?
- Reproduction: Is this information reproduced/curated from another source? Were the proper citiations and copyright considerations observed?
We hope this resource for determining website credibility will be useful for you and your students. We welcome you to explore how to apply them to the websites you use for research in your most interesting and engaging projects.