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WHSL Evaluating Web Sites for Health Information: Objectivity

A brief guide showing how to evaluate web sites used to provide health information

Criteria

The following criteria can be used to evaluate web sites:

  • Authority
  • Accuracy
  • Objectivity
  • Currency
  • Coverage

How Objective is the Content?

Work through these examples to determine whether the content of these sites is objective:

Objectivity

A source can be considered objective if the content has not been influenced by emotions, personal prejudices, or the desire to influence the person reading it. Information presented in a manner that attempts to sway the reader is considered biased.

  • If the site relates to a controversial topic, are different sides of the argument represented evenly? When different viewpoints are evenly represented, the site can be considered unbiased or balanced.
  • Many biased pages will feature strongly worded statements claiming the absolute certainty of their conclusions, which are often supported by evidence and documentation. You may find it useful to locate the documented sources or follow the hyperlinks given, and draw your own conclusions.

     

It is also useful to consider the purpose of the site and to think critically as to why the organization sponsoring the site is providing the information.

  • Commercial sites in many cases are designed to sell products and services. Some sites may only provide information that puts their goods or services in the best light. The object of the site is to get you to buy their product(s), so this is not surprising.

If the site is sponsored, is the sponsor credible? Can the sponsor be trusted to provide accurate information? What is the sponsor's reputation?

Consider objectivity of the web site with authority in mind.