Rating Info

The WebGuide is a directory of child development sites that have been systematically evaluated and approved. Evaluations are based on the credibility of the site's sponsoring organization, the research base of its content, and its relevance. Thousands of sites are screened and evaluated each year, and only those that score highly are listed on the WebGuide. These trustworthy sites can be searched either through our topics or through our Google Custom Search function, which searches only WebGuide approved sites.

The general process consists of:
  • extensive training of evaluators
  • basic screening process, eliminating most sites
  • rigorous evaluation, passing only a small percentage of sites
  • rating assignment
  • final approval and posting for inclusion in WebGuide links and search database



  • Screening of Sites

    Only sites that have been carefully screened are considered for evaluation. Sites that are most likely to be eliminated through the screening process are those which are:
    • personal pages
    • primarily commercial
    • lacking a clearly identified sponsor
    • lacking sufficient content on the topic
    Sites are also eliminated during the screening process if they are based on minimal research and are being considered for one of the research-based categories (i.e., family/parenting, education/learning, typical child development, or health/mental health).


    The Overall Evaluation

    After a site has passed the screening process, it is systematically evaluated. Only a small percentage of sites that are evaluated are listed on the WebGuide.

    Most of the research-based sites listed in the WebGuide have received an overall evaluation of:

    Rating: 5/5 Excellent
    OR
    Rating: 4/5 Very Good

    A few listed sites have received an overall evaluation of:

    Rating: 3/5 Good
    OR
    Rating: 2/5 Fair

    Sites are not listed on the WebGuide if they have received a rating of:

    Rating: 1/5 Poor

    The Resources/Recreation sites are also evaluated, but they are accepted or rejected rather than assigned a one-to-five star rating. A high cut-off point is adopted so that only the most trustworthy sites are included in the WebGuide.

    We use sampling techniques for selecting material on the site rather than reviewing the entire site. There may be more information on the site than indicated in our review.


    Evaluation Criteria

    Our evaluation system is based on four criteria: authority, content, ease of use, and stability of site. Authority and content are more important than ease of use, which is more important than stability, in determining the overall score. The way in which these criteria are defined depends upon the type of site being evaluated--whether it is research-based, involves resources/recreation, or is a combination of the two.

    For research-based sites (i.e., those listed in the family/parenting, education/learning, typical child development, and health/mental health categories), the emphasis is on documentation of information and academic credentials. Click here for more details.

    For sites included in the resources/recreation category, the emphasis is on a greater range of credentials (non-academic as well as academic qualifications), whether the site contains information by region, limits on commercial advertising, and inclusion of contact information. Click here for more details.

    For sites included within the features "ask an expert sites", "research news sites", and "one of a kind sites", the criteria are a combination of those described above. Click here for more information.

    For medical sites (i.e., those listed in the medical category), the emphasis is on documentation of information and academic credentials of the medical review board for the site. Attention is also given to conflict of interest for these sites. Click here for more details.


    Evaluation Team

    The rating team is made up of graduate students at Tufts University who are extensively trained in the use of the WebGuide evaluation method and are closely supervised by faculty. Raters must achieve a high level of reliability before they are allowed to score the web sites. After a site is evaluated it is reviewed by a faculty member at Tufts before it is included on the WebGuide.


    Evidence of the Merits of the WebGuide Evaluation System

    Research involving experts in child development indicates that the WebGuide Evaluation System meets scientific standards of excellence. Research involving parents and professionals indicates that they endorse the criteria adopted in our evaluation system. To find out more about the WebGuide Evaluation System, write us at cfw@tufts.edu.