Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ABC3 Website Evaluation: Evaluating Sources

The ABC3 method of website evaluation highlights important points to consider as you research online sources: Authority, Bias, Content, Currency, and Consistency.

Pic


""

ABC3 Criteria

The ABC3 of Website Evaluation

Anyone can publish information online and there is no overall fact checker of the Internet. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the information you find for your assignments or your own personal interests. The ABC3 method of website evaluation highlights important points to consider as you research online sources: Authority, Bias, Content, Currency, and Consistency. 

Authority – Authority refers to who wrote the information and why you should trust them. Check to see if the author has credentials on the subject matter in terms of a degree and/or extensive experience. This helps verify that they are qualified to write about the topic. The author’s name is typically listed under the title and is commonly hyperlinked. Be aware that sometimes author does not refer only to one person but it can be a group of people, an organization, company, and so on.

Locating the author:

  • Usually located under the title of the article
  • Sometimes located at the end of the article
  • Contact us webpage

Evaluating authority:

  • Click the hyperlinked author’s name (if applicable)
  • Read the author’s bio
  • Check the website’s About Us section
  • Google the author
  • Check Social Media  
  • How easy is it to contact the author in case you have questions?

Bias – Bias refers to the level of which the author’s personal beliefs, opinions, or interests are displayed in the information. Is the author trying to make you feel a certain way? Are the author’s words emotionally charged? Can you tell how the author feels about the subject? Also, take a look at the sponsors to see who is funding the information to ensure they are not swaying the objectivity of the message being conveyed. Lastly, consider your own bias or experiences that may impact how you interpret the information you find.

Locating Bias:

  • Words used in the article 
  • Check the ads
  • Check the mission statement of the website

Evaluating bias:

  • Is the article written in first person? (This is not necessarily a deal breaker but may indicate a limited view on the topic.)
  • Does the article contain a high level of emotionally charged language?
  • Do you have preconceived opinions about the topic?

Content – Content refers to the information contained in the article. Does it make sense? Is it appropriate for your intended audience? What was the editing process? How is the information researched? What is the content type (entertainment, education, research, informational, etc.)? 

Locating Content:

  • The text of the article or web entry
  • Check methodology section (for peer-reviewed articles)

Evaluating Content:

  • Check your assignment to verify the types of sources allowed (e.g., websites, peer-reviewed publications, newspapers, etc.)
  • Check for editorial guidelines and/or the About Us page
  • Check references, works cited or hyperlinks
  • Check the length of the article
  • Check for spelling or grammatical errors
  • Verify that people quoted or companies mentioned actually exist

Currency – Currency refers to when the information was written or last updated. How regularly is the website maintained?

Locating Currency:

  • The publication date is usually located underneath the title or at the end of the article.
  • Many websites have a last updated or copyright date at the bottom of their webpages. 

Evaluating Currency:

  • Check your assignment to ensure the publication date of the information falls within any stated timeframes.
  • Check to see if there have been any new developments on your topic that were published after your article. (This can be accomplished by checking to see if any articles have cited your article, performing a google search on your topic and restricting the timeframe, or checking the library’s databases.)

Consistency – Many times your instructor will require you to include multiple sources in your research. This is to ensure you have a consensus on your topic and that you are not taking just one source’s word for it. Verify, verify, verify.

Locating consistency:

  • This is done by reviewing other websites.

Evaluating consistency:

  • Check your assignment for the number and types of sources required.
  • Check other sources to see if they have the same information on your topic.

Evaluation Checklist

Make the Call

When it comes to evaluating sources, you have to make a judgment call. A good rule of thumb: if you're hesitant about a source's credibility, don't use it. Find a more credible source on your topic. Remember, librarians are available to help you find reliable sources!