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Doctor of Nursing Practice

Why Websites?

Sometimes you may need to use websites as sources. Potential uses for websites include:

  • Statistics -, reports from government agencies & research organizations
  • Policies & guidelines - FDA, American Medical Association, EPA, CDC, etc.
  • Companies or groups referenced within a paper

Evaluating a website is similar to evaluating a journal article, but the information may not be as easily accessible and may require an extra critical eye.

How to Evaluate

Ask yourself ...

WHY was the page created? 

  • Inform - Laws, regulations, services (government); collections and services (library or non-profits); available courses, programs, services (university sites)
  • Entertain - Games, puzzles, pictures, books, magazines, gossip, fan sites
  • Share Information - Hobbies, fandom, DIY
  • Advertise/Sell - Products, services
  • Influence - Advocacy, religion, pro/con, politics, etc.
  • News
  • Personal - Blogs, hobby sites, etc.


A professionally designed website does not guarantee the accuracy of its information, but it generally indicates someone has put some effort into the content and its maintenance. A few things to ask yourself:

  • Is the content well-written: understandable, grammatically correct, and coherent?
  • Does the content contain working links to relevant and appropriate information?
  • Can you easily identify the author and when the content was written or updated?


When was the page produced and/or last revised? Is the linked information also up-to-date? If it's not apparent when the information was posted or updated, it's best to move on.


Is the web page relevant to your current project? If it's useful, it will

  • support your argument
  • oppose your argument, or
  • give evidence (survey results, primary research results, case studies, etc.)

Very important: Can you clearly identify the author, and is he or she considered an authoritative source in this subject area?


To what type of reader is the web site directed? This will dictate the quality of the content. Is the content level appropriate for your needs?

Ask yourself, is the site for:

  • general readers
  • students (elementary, high school, undergraduate, graduate)
  • specialists or professionals
  • researchers or scholars?

WHO is behind the site?

Who is authoring and maintaining this website? How does this affect its purpose and content? Look for Mission Statements, About Us, and FAQs to learn more. If a site does not make it obvious who is behind it, move on to another source.

  • Government (.gov) sites have "official" information, laws, bills or resolutions, and can be considered a primary source
  • Education (.edu) sites serve multiple purposes: market & promote the institution, posting information for its students and faculty, and publish current research
    • Beware: Students often post papers for an online portfolio - do not use other students as sources!
  • Businesses/Companies (.com) promote goods, services, and rarely post negative information
  • Associations: Professional, Trade (address frequently includes .org) recruit & provide information to current members
  • News bureau: television, newspaper, radio (address frequently includes .com)


Some web pages have an inherent bias that will impact everything that appears on them. Is the author:

  • left/liberal?
  • right/conservative?
  • center/moderate?
  • a political action (PAC) group or assocation?
  • a business?
  • an advocate?

Another method of evaluating websites (and other sources) is the CRAAP test. This stands for CURRENCY, RELEVANCY, AUTHORITY, ACCURACY, and PURPOSE. It's simply a group of questions you should ask yourself when evaluating a resource.


  • When was it published or last updated?
  • If referencing other sources, when were those sources published?
  • Do you need current information, or are older sources acceptable?
  • Are links functional and up-to-date?


  • What's the depth and breadth of the information? 
  • Could you find the same or better information from other sources?
  • Who is the intended audience? Consumers, students, researchers?
  • Does it provide the information you need?


  • Who is the author/creator/sponsor?
  • What credentials are listed and can you verify this information elsewhere? Are the credentials relevant to the topic?
  • What's the author or organization's reputation?
  • Is there contact information?
  • What does the domain reveal about the source? Example: .edu .com. .gov


  • Where does this information come from?
  • Are original sources listed? Do those sources come from traditional publications?
  • Can you verify information in independent sources?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Does language or tone seem biased?


  • Are possible biases clearly stated?
  • Is the purpose of the page stated? Is the purpose to inform, teach, entertain, sell, persuade?
  • Is advertising content vs. informational content clearly distinguishable? (Beware of "sponsored content" or "sponsored articles" on journalism sites like




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