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Length: 800 words minimum.   The paper will need to be at least five paragraphs in length. The paper will have an introduction, conclusion and at least three body paragraphs that evaluate the website.

Use third person in your evaluation.

Before you begin this essay you will need to read “Evaluating Internet Research Sources” by Robert Harris (posted online in Eagle Online). 

http://www.virtualsalt.com/evalu8it.htm (Links to an external site.)

For this essay you will select one (1) website  that discuss an issue that you are interested in (for example: www.peta.org (Links to an external site.) ,  www.carnival.com, (Links to an external site.)  www.diyprojects.com, (Links to an external site.) www.hccs.edu, (Links to an external site.)  www.fishermanadvisor.com (Links to an external site.)) You cannot use Wikipedia.  Also, do not simple select an online article – you need to examine a complete website. You will need to clearly identify the title of the website and the address (URL) in your essay.

You will evaluate the website that you have selected.  Use the following questions as a guide.  Remember, simple Yes or No answers will not be enough.  You will need to take time to explain your evaluation of the website and include specific examples/details to support your evaluation.  Both in-text documentation and a works cited page in MLA format are required.

Here are some questions to consider in the evaluation of the websites:

  • Look for signs indicating the website is regularly updated. When was the website last updated?  Does the lack of an update date help you to determine whether or not the website is credible/reliable?
  • Is the website posted anonymously? If it is anonymous, ask yourself why do you think you (or the reader) should trust the information even though it comes from an unknown source.
  • Does the website list contact information for the author or organization (e-mail address, mailing address, phone number) so you can verify the person or organization really exists by trying to contact them?
  • Is the author someone particularly likely to be a trustworthy source? Does the website list his/her credentials, experience, title, occupation or other relevant information?  Is the author associated with a respected or well-known organization? Does that organization have an interest or investment in being impartial, accurate, and trustworthy? Does that organization have a financial or political stake in persuading you to trust its judgment that might make it biased or untrustworthy?
  • Does the website have a clear agenda, such as a commercial, political bias/motivation for its publication? Examine the address endings for the website (For instance, .com, .biz, .gov, .edu, .org, .mil, or  .mus.) What does this tell you about the nature of the organization? Does that bias alter the degree to which you trust the website? Should it?
  • Ask yourself if the web author has taken the time to proofread her web page. Has the author spent the time to create a neat, visually engaging but easily accessible web page? If not, does that sloppiness detract from the reader’s trust? Why or why not? An occasional typo or grammatical error might mean nothing, but two or three within a few paragraphs might indicate this individual didn’t spend much time on the project or might not be very professional.
  • Ask yourself how old each site is. If the site is new, that might indicate the creator doesn’t have much experience yet. If the site is old, that might mean the information has been superseded by newer data.
  • For what sort of audience is this material intended on the website? Does the website acknowledge disagreements in the field? Does it respond to the same issues appearing in other websites or ignore them?
  • Does the website explain where its information comes from? Are any sources listed? Is there a bibliography or other documentation? Does the author provide contact information in case you wish to discuss an issue or request further clarification? Does the author explain how he knows the material? How do you know the author isn’t just making up numbers and statistics? The most reliable websites will explain the processes or techniques used to gather their data.

Remember, the paper will need to have a clear introduction and conclusion along with at least three body paragraphs that evaluate the selected website. Use specific examples from the website to support your evaluation.

The paper will be graded based on

  • Organization and development of ideas
  • Use of specific examples/details
  • Grammar and mechanics
  • Documentation of sources

Learning Objectives:

  • Develop ideas and synthesize primary and secondary sources within focused academic arguments, including one or more research-based essays.
  • Analyze, interpret, and evaluate a variety of texts for the ethical and logical uses of evidence.
  • Write in a style that clearly communicates meaning, builds credibility, and inspires belief or action.