How to Recognize a Personal Web Page

A Personal Web Page is one published by an individual who may or may not be affiliated with a larger institution. Although the URL address of the page may have a variety of endings (e.g. .com, .edu, etc.), a tilde (~) is frequently embedded somewhere in the URL.


Questions to Ask About the Web Page

Note: The greater number of questions listed below answered "yes", the more likely it is you can determine whether the source is of high information quality.


Criterion #1: AUTHORITY

  1. Is it clear what individual is responsible for the contents of the page?
  2. Does the individual responsible for the page indicate his or her qualifications for writing on this topic?
  3. Is there a way of verifying the legitimacy of this individual? (Because it is difficult to verify the legitimacy of an individual, personal home pages may be a useful source for personal opinion but use extreme caution when using them as a source for factual information.)

Criterion #2: ACCURACY

  1. Are the sources for any factual information clearly listed so they can be verified in another source? (If not, the page may still be useful to you as an example of the ideas of the individual, but it is not useful as a source of factual information.)
  2. Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors? (These kinds of errors not only indicate a lack of quality control, but can actually produce inaccuracies in information.)

Criterion #3: OBJECTIVITY

  1. Are the person's biases clearly stated?

Criterion #4: CURRENCY

  1. Are there dates on the page to indicate: When the page was written? When the page was first placed on the Web? When the page was last revised?
  2. Are there any other indications that the material is kept current?

Criterion #5: COVERAGE

  1. Is there an indication that the page has been completed, and is not still under construction?

Copyright Jan Alexander & Marsha Ann Tate 1996-2005
Print copies of this checklist may be made and distributed provided that 1) They are used for educational purposes only and 2) The page is reproduced in its entirety. For any other use or for permission to make electronic copies, please contact the authors at Wolfgram Memorial Library, Widener University, One University Place, Chester, PA. 19013.