Figuring out whether a website or other source is suitable for your purpose also means looking at how thoroughly it covers your topic
You can evaluate thoroughness in relation to other sources on the same topic. Compare your source to how other sources cover the material, checking for missing topics or perspectives.
Clues About Thoroughness
Click around a site to get some idea of how thoroughly it covers the topic. If the source you are evaluating is a print resource, read the introduction and conclusion and also the table of contents to get a glimpse of what it covers. Look at the index to see what subject is covered with the most pages. Is it thorough enough to meet your information need?
Tip: Related Sites
Use Google to find other sites on the same topic by entering related:[the URL of the site you know] in the search box.
For example: related:climate.nasa.gov
Use this technique to browse other sites Google turns up. Do other sites cover aspects of the topic that are missing from the site you are evaluating? Or does your site stack up pretty well against the competition?
Making the Inference
Consider the clues. Then decide the extent that the source’s thoroughness is acceptable for your purpose. It might help to grade the extent that this factor contributes to the source being suitable on a scale like this one:
- A – Very Acceptable
- B – Good, but could be better
- C – OK in a pinch
- D – Marginal
- F – Unacceptable
You’ll want to make a note of the source’s grade for thoroughness so you can combine it later with the grades you give the other factors.