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Hajian: Digital Literacy 21: II: Website Evaluation

Using Appropriate Websites for School Research

  • No Wikipedia
  • No "Answer" websites:;; Yahoo Answers, etc.
  • No Blogs
  • Look at the top level domain (.gov, .edu, .org, .com).  Generally .gov  and .edu sites are the most trustworthy, followed by .org and then .com.
  • .gov = government website. Always good to use.
  • .edu = college/university website   Generally good to use, but make sure .edu site is not a student project.  If it is student work, don't use it.  
  • .org = nonprofit/organization.   You need to look at these with more caution. Some (not all) organizations can be biased. 
  • .com = commercial/for profit company   You need to look at these with the most caution.  Are they trying to sell you something?  Are they a trusted company?   If you don't know who they are, then you need to find out before using.  There are some good .com websites to use for research.  Many newspaper and news organizations are .coms and they are fine to use.  
  • When you find a website you would like to use, make sure you identify the publisher of the website and determine if the publisher is knowledgeable and trustworthy. 
  • The publisher can usually be found at the bottom of the website near the copyright date.  Sometimes the publisher's name is underlined (hyperlinked) and you can click on it and find information about the company.   If the publisher's name is not at the bottom, check the "Contact Us", "About Us" or "FAQs".  If you can't find information there, try "Googling" the publisher's name for more information.  If you still can't find any information, don't use the website.  

Finding Parts of a Website for Citations

Parts of a Website

Domain:  .gov, .edu, .org, .com

Website Title:  Usually found in top left hand corner

Article Title:  Can also be called webpage title

Author:  Usually found near article title or at the end of the article

Date:   Usually found near article title or at the end of the article

Publisher/Sponsor:  Found at bottom of page near copyright date.©


ABCDE of Website Evaluation


The ABCDE of website evaluation.  When deciding whether or not the website you found is a good source for research, go through each letter to help you determine if you should use the website. Each letter is explained in the boxes below.  The letters are listed in order of importance.  In other words, the A is most important and E is least important.  


A= Author

  • Do you recognize the author/publisher of the website?
  • If not, is there an "About Us" or "Contact Us" page?
  • Are the qualifications of the author and/or publisher available?
  • What is the top level domain (the last part of the URL) (.gov, .edu, .org, .com)?


B= Bias

  • What is the purpose of the website (to inform, to persuade or to sell)?
  • Is the website balanced (offering both sides of an issue) or is it biased (opinionated)?


C= Currency 

  • Is there a date for the article or when the site was last updated?
  • Is the article current enough for my research?  This depends on your topic. If you are researching something scientific or medical, you would want to find information from the last 3 to 5 years.  If you are researching the Civil War, it would not matter that the article is 15 years old.  


D = Design

  • Is the website easy to navigate?
  • Do the links work?
  • Is the website free from spelling/grammatical errors?





E= Excellent Fit‚Äč

  • Does the information meet my needs?
  • Can I find information for my research project?