The Ohio State University at Mansfield


Writing Resources


The Writing Center Consultants are one of your best resources at OSU Mansfield. Usually they already know the answers to your questions. But if they don't, they are also experienced researchers, so they can help you find what you are looking for. Just ask!

Many people come to the Writing Center for help with writing and editing their work, with documenting their sources, and with evaluating information that they have found online. You'll find links below for more information on these popular topics:

First-Year Writing Help


APA Style Guide Help


Evaluating Online Sources

Anyone with a computer and access to server space can put up a web page. There are few restrictions and even fewer established guidelines as to what an author can or cannot put up on a web page. Thus, in order to do effective research and publish responsibly on the World Wide Web, researchers and authors need to investigate and critically approach the author's (or their own) intentions, credibility, and bias, the reliability of the information presented, the interface (how the graphics and text look), and the ease with which the site can be navigated. Listed below are questions to assist you in your evaluation of web sites and/or to assist you in creating your own web page.

Author/Credibility
Who is the author or producer?
What is the authority or expertise of the individual or group that created this site?
With what organization is the author of the web site affiliated?
What is the bias of the author/producer/organization?
What are the reasons to assume that the author is an authority on the subject?
Is there a way to contact the author or supply feedback?

Reliability of Information
Who is the expected audience?
Are the content and the links clearly described and suitable for the expected audience?
What is the primary purpose of the site (e.g., advertising, information)?
Is a date of publication provided? When was the web site last updated?
How complete and accurate are the information and the links provided?
Are excerpts from texts provided or are entire texts available on the site?
Does the information contradict something you already know or have learned from another source?
Is a bibliography of print or web resources included?
Has the site been reviewed or ranked by an on-line reviewing agency?

Interface

Is the site conceptually exciting? Does it do more than can be done with print?
Do the graphics and art serve a function or are they decorative?
Does the text follow basic rules of grammar, spelling, and composition?
Are the individual web pages concise, or do you have to scroll forever?
Are the graphics or multimedia included simply to show off, or do they add to the content of the page?

Navigating the Site
Can you find your way around and easily locate a particular page from any other page?
How up-to-date are the links? Do all the links work?
Do parts of the site take too long to load?
Are the links primarily external or internal?
Does the site contain links to other resources?
Is it open to everyone on the Internet, or do parts require fees?
Is there a text alternative? Text-only? Can you turn off the graphics? 

 (This material adapted from the Michigan State University Writing Center Web Page Evaluation handout.)