Evaluating Health Web Sites – Part II

We all learned to write essays when we were young. Our teachers taught us to introduce the important facts.  With web sites the rules are the same. Usually it’s easy to identify significant information about a site, information that indicates whether a site is a reliable resource, but sometimes it’s not so easy.

Many web sites often look both real and reliable, but they are bogus. A web site that is fun to explore is at the Western Australia Province Department of Education and features bogus web sites. The featured are sites designed to look accurate and authoritative. Except that they are not accurate or authoritative. Take a few minutes to check out these sites. Better yet go exploring with senior parents.

Evaluate the Health Web Sites that You Use As Resources

When you use information from health web sites (or any sites for that matter) be sure that you are using have accurate and reliable information. If you are doing research and plan to rely on content from a web site, please read the following tips.

Ten Tips to Ensure that the Information is Useful and Accurate.

I have probably presented these hundreds of times to students in grades 4 – 12, to parents and teachers, and to older adults.

  1. Who made the site? Is it from a university or other institution?  Is it for-profit or non-profit?  Corporate?  Look for a link that tells about the site.
  2. When was the site made and how often is the site updated? Somewhere on the site, usually at the bottom of each page a user should be able to locate this information. Can you tell how often the site updates material?  If not check out another website.
  3. Is it possible to contact the webmaster or the sponsor of the site? Is there a contact us link somewhere on the page?
  4. How much advertising is on the page, and how aggressive is it? Good sites that have advertising are careful to keep it from being “in your face.”
  5. Does the site state its mission? Try to find out who built the site and why.
  6. Does the site give biographical information about content authors? In today’s virtual world anyone can write anything about a topic. Are people writing qualified explain content on the subject.
  7. How much of the site has significant content and how much focuses on opinion? If you are searching for facts, you want to avoid sites that focus almost exclusively on opinions.
  8. Can you look at a similar site and confirm the information? Too many people state their opinions as fact. If you have any doubt, check a second site.
  9. Does the site have references or footnotes? Are there some attribution methods to demonstrate where the information came from?  Today links connect web sites with one another.
  10. Is the site easy to use? Navigating is easy on good websites. Can you navigate around the site with just a few clicks.  Can you return to the first page easily?

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