by Zovig Balian-Tardieu and William Tardieu*


The World Wide Web is a source of endless information. However, some of this information is of questionable value.  It is, therefore, important to evaluate Web sources according to the criteria stated in the 183 course book (pp. 19-20).  That is, the evaluation has to be done according to the following:


·        Authority – Is the author of the source reputable?

·        Accuracy/Coverage – Does the source use other sources to support statements?  Is the information accurate?  Does it cover all aspects of the matter?

·        Currency – Is the source current or up-to-date?

·        Purpose/Audience – Is the source suitable for health sciences students/for academic research?

·        Objectivity – Is the source objective or unbiased?



The above criteria apply to both Web sources and printed sources.  However, the techniques of evaluation in each case may not necessarily be the same. Let us consider authority, currency and objectivity.


Authority:  Information about the author (qualifications/expertise) can easily be found in a printed source such as a book. This is more difficult with a Web source since the author is not always made clear. Therefore, look for the following:


q       The publisher of the Web site is reputable.

q       The publisher of the Web site represents an academic institution or a well- known/an official organization.


Currency:  Almost all printed sources have publication dates. A lot of Web sources do not. Therefore, to ensure your source is current, look for the following:


q       The Web source has no publication date, but the site is regularly updated.

q       The (updated) date is visible at the end of the Web source (i.e. the independent document/article) or on the site’s home page.


Objectivity:  To check the objectivity of a Web source, look for the following:


q       The information provided is sponsored by a reputable organization and is not just part of someone’s personal Web site.

q       The information provided is a public service.

q       The source is free of advertising.

q       If there is advertising, the information is clearly distinguished from the advertising.


* Adapted in part from Using the World Wide Web as a learning resource by Tony Chafer, Portsmouth University.