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PHYS 235: Electricity and Magnetism

Spring 2021 - For Professor Helen Minsky

Search engines

US Government Websites

International Websites

Critically evaluating websites

Determining the credibility of something you find on the web is not straightforward.  You'll want to look both at the website itself and the author of the piece you're reading.  But the appropriateness will also depend on the topic and on the argument that you're making. 

A few things to think about as you're evaluating something on the web:

  • How would you characterize the page or article that you're reading?
    For example:
    • Review of current literature on a topic
    • Statistics
    • Opinion piece
    • Policy recommendation
  • Who is the author of the page or article you are reading?
    • Can you find other pieces that they've written?
    • Can you tell what their discipline or area of expertise is? Is this someone whose contribution you can trust?
  • How would you characterize the website that is hosting the page you're reading?
    For example:
    • Nonprofit or nongovernmental agency website
    • Government website
    • News site
  • Who is responsible for the website? 
    • What is their relationship to the author of the piece you are reading?
    • What else does the website publish?
    • What is the mission of the website?
  • What is the date of the posting?
  • Who is the intended audience of the site?
  • What relevance does the site have for your topic?
  • Does the post use or present specific evidence?
    • Is there a citation for the evidence?
    • Where is that evidence from?
    • If appropriate, trace the evidence back its origin.  Is the page using that evidence accurately and responsibly?