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How to Evaluate Sources

Evaluating the Evidence Presented in a Web Site

Once Aaron determined that the Taiwan Documents Project Web site was relevant to his research writing project, he had several options to evaluate the evidence the site presented. The first step was to determine if the sources of information are provided. Aaron noticed a link on the left side of the page to a "Bibliography," which would give him access to some sources that the site was based on.

If the site had made claims but did not back them up with documented evidence, Aaron might have been wary of trusting the information he found. Because anyone can post information on the Web, it's important that you verify information from a questionable source.

Aaron had already done a significant amount of research and determined that the information presented in the Taiwan Documents Project Web site was consistent with other sources he had found. If you are not as far along in the research process, one solution is to do a search for other Web sites to determine whether the information on the Web site is consistent with the information found in print sources, other Web sites, newsgroups, or mailing lists.

As you evaluate the Web site, consider whether or not evidence is carefully put together, complete, and up-to-date. Consider the thesis, if any, and if it is supported by credible evidence. Ask if the argument or analysis seems convincing. If the source leaves you with several important questions unanswered, you might do better to look for another source.

As Aaron reviewed the information on the Taiwan Documents Web site, he could see that the site contained mostly historical and government documents, which would be useful for his project, and he felt quite confident that the evidence presented in the Web site was solid. He also noticed after following the "About TDP" link that the site had been given high ratings and had won recognition from several sources. Aaron felt that gave the site more credibility.

Click on the Continue button to view a demonstration of evaluating the author of the Web site.

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