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SAGE450 - T. Verhey: Evaluating Websites

Guide to Resources

CARS Checklist for Evaluating Websites

CARS is an acronym for Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness, and Support.

CARS in a Nutshell

  • Credibility - trustworthy source, author’s credentials, evidence of quality control, known or respected authority, organizational support. Goal: an authoritative source, a source that supplies some good evidence that allows you to trust it.
  • Accuracy - up to date, factual, detailed, exact, comprehensive, audience and purpose reflect intentions of completeness and accuracy. Goal: a source that is correct today (not yesterday), a source that gives the whole truth.
  • Reasonableness - fair, balanced, objective, reasoned, no conflict of interest, absence of fallacies or slanted tone. Goal: a source that engages the subject thoughtfully and reasonably, concerned with the truth.
  • Support - listed sources, contact information, available corroboration, claims supported, documentation supplied. Goal: a source that provides convincing evidence for the claims made, a source you can triangulate (find at least two other sources that support it).
C is for Credibility

Can you trust this site?

Who wrote it? Is that person or organization reputable? An Authority? What is his/her background or credentials?

What organization sponsored the site? Look at the domain names. Is it .org, .edu, .gov, .com? Domains can be an indication of authority.

Tip: Dig for information under About Us or similar link. Click on the author's name to see more information.

If you can't find who wrote it, don't trust it.

A is for Accuracy 

Is the information correct and up to date?

When was it last updated?

Are there broken links?

Tip: Be on the lookout for broken links, misspelled words or lack of quality control.

R is for Reasonableness

What is the purpose of the site? Mission of the organization?

Is the Information fair, balanced, objective, and correct?

Is the information one-sided or slanted?

Is it consistent? Is there a conflict of interest?

Tip: Look out for the tone of the language and sweeping statements or inflammatory words (hate, stupid, sucks, etc.)

S is for Support

Does the site indicate sources of support for its information?

Where do statistics come from?

What documentation of sources is included?

Is there a bibliography or links to other sources?

Are there contacts listed?

Tip: Beware of statistics or facts with no reference to a source.