Challenge Library Guide for Western Civilization - Vannelli - St. Mary's: Website Critique

Lateral Reading Video

Watch this 3-minute video about the importance of lateral reading when evaluating a website. The key message is to move throughout the Web to assess the website in question. Do not rely solely on the content or links of the website. 

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Citizen Literacy was created by Robert Detmering, Amber Willenborg, and Terri Holtze for University of Louisville Libraries and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

Tips for Website Evaluation

1. Is there a parent website? Who pays for the website?

2. What does .org or .com have to do with it? Domains do not determine reliability. Many reliable resources use  .com domains like the five U.S. major dailies;  NYT, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, and Washington Post. 

3. Is the About page really the spin page? How do you corroborate what you have read on the About page? Lateral reading is a way to use the entire Web as a way to evaluate the credibility of a website.

4. Even if a link on a website leads to a reliable resource, be sure to read the content in order to see if it supports the premise of the website or not. 

5. Don't judge a website by its cover! A website may look professional; yet it is easy to manufacture respectability, so browse laterally!

6. Check Wikipedia, especially the entry's references for your topic. Note the Wikipedia "Talk" webpage for entries. This is where experts refute the content.

These website evaluation tips are from this  2020 report:

Wineburg, Sam, Breakstone, Joel, Ziv, Nadav, and Smith, Mark. (October 21, 2020). Educating for Misunderstanding. Stanford History Education Group. Retrieved from https://cor.stanford.edu/research/educating-for-misunderstanding/

Related Library Guide

SIFT Information Literacy Tutorials: Websites

SIFT - The acronym!

S - STOP

I - Investigate the source

F - Find Trusted Coverage

T - Trace to the Original

For more information about S.I.F.T., go to the web page,  Web Source Analysis.

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