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Economics: Evaluating Web Sites

Sources for Laura Storino's course: Economics 53:135:500, based on George Diemer and Fred Rowland's guide for the course at Temple University.

Internal / External Analysis

To get the most out of web evaluation, first analyze the web site itself to see what kind of information it provides. Then use outside sources--library catalogs, databases, googling, etc.--to find information about the credibility of authors and publishers of a web site. Below are ideas for both internal and external evaluation.

Internal Evaluation
Use the chart below to critically evaluate the content of a web site.

web evaluation criteria

 

Examples:

http://ips.jhu.edu/blog/index.cfm/2011/5/21/The-Debt-Ceiling-Debate-and-the-Looming-August-Deadline

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget

http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2009/08/24/understanding-the-federal-budget/

http://blog.heritage.org/2009/03/24/bush-deficit-vs-obama-deficit-in-pictures/

 

Here's a great example of why currency (date) or web pages/articles/documents are important, from the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/08/AR2008090803063.html.

 

External Evaluation

1) Use Google or Yahoo's "link" command to discover web sites that are linking to the site you are evaluating. This often gives good clues as to what kind of site it is. For instance, a liberal think tank like the Urban Institute is likely to have left-liberal sites linking to it, while a more right-conservative think tank like the American Enterprise Institute is more likely to have conservative sites linking to it.

For instance, link:http://www.epinet.org will show you sites linking to the Center for Policy Studies. Do you think this a conservative or liberal think tank?

Try the Google "link" command.

 

2) Use the library's catalog to discover information about authors and organizations. Has the author of a web site article written a book that Temple owns? What kind of book is it? Has an organization sponsoring a web site published any books? What does this information tell you about the web site you are evaluating?

Use the Rutgers Libraries Catalog to search for authors and organizations.

3) Use databases to discover if the authors have published any articles. What kind of articles are they and what does this tell you about your web site? Search for articles that mention the web site's sponsoring organization. How is it talked about? What does this tell you about its poltiical/economic orientation?

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