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Physics: Evaluating Sources

Is my source good enough for a college research paper?

This short Website Evaluation Exercise is designed to give you some practice deciding whether articles found on the internet are appropriate for a college level research paper.

The librarian will divide the class into groups of four students each.


The librarian assigns your group one of the articles below (Web Pages to Evaluate).

Skim the article on your own (2-3 min.)

Work as a group to apply/answer the criteria question(s) on the right (Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages and Websites). (5 min.)

Be prepared to answer the criteria questions out loud as a group - you'll want to elect a spokesperson. (5 min.)

Web Pages to Evaluate- Acoustics

  1. The Physics of Music- Answer Authority and Purpose
  2. Music and Acoustics- Answer Relevancy and Purpose
  3. Physics of Woodwinds- Answer Currency and Authority
  4. Acoustics of Brass Musical Instruments- Answer Accuracy and Authority
  5. Physics Breakthrough- Answer Purpose and Relevancy

Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages and Websites

Evaluate the article based on the following criteria:

  1. Currency of Information.  How current is the information provided?  Is current information important for your topic?

  1. Relevancy: Who is this website written for? Therapists, educators, students, family members, teens, etc.?

  1. Authority. What organization or person is responsible for the article or website?  Tip: look for an “about us” or “contact us” page.  What credentials (degrees, expertise, etc.) does the author of the article have?

  1. Accuracy. Is it based on the author’s opinions or does the information represent researched results? Does the author cite his or her sources?

  1. Purpose: Why was this website created?  To inform, entertain, advertise a product or service, etc.? Does the URL (.com, .org, .gov, etc.) tell you anything about the website and it's purpose, mission or goals?