On-Line Source Credibility
(adapted from leo.stcloudstate.edu)
Using sources from the Internet poses a special challenge for researchers. Because anyone can post information, and because the information often changes quickly, researchers must take extra care to ensure that on-line sources are credible. Answer these basic questions to help determine the credibility of an on-line source:
Title of the specific web page/article:__________________________________________
Who is the author? ________________________________
Avoid sources whose author you cannot identify. If the author is not clearly listed within the site, use the following techniques to locate the author’s name:
- link back to the site’s home page
- ask the Web development team or sponsoring organization to identify the author.
Is the author a professional in the field? Yes No Cannot determine
Does the author include his/her e-mail address or another means to contact her/him? Yes No
Who is the sponsor of the site?__________________________________
Credible web sites are often sponsored by professional organizations, publishers, or universities.
Is the type of material appropriate for the assignment? How do you know?
Professional sources from the Web include professional home pages or online professional journals. Non-professional sources include many personal home pages. Is the site sponsored by a respected organization? Does the site include an official insignia of the organization sponsoring it?
Are you able to contact the webmaster or sponsoring organization from the site? Yes No
Identify the date created and, if present, the date(s) revised.____________________________
Does the site include information on how often the site is updated? Yes No
Is a copyright date listed? Yes No
Is there evidence of “linkrot”? Yes No
Linkrot refers to links that no longer exist or have simply moved; this implies poor upkeep of the site.
What is the goal of the website? How do you know?
Is the perspective appropriate for your paper? Explain.
Are all sides of the issue fairly presented? Explain.
Does the site include a bibliography or in some manner indicate its sources of information? Yes No
Is the material comparable to related sources? In other words, does the information here match ideas/information found in other sources? Yes No
Is the information in the text poorly presented compared to the graphics? Yes No
Do many mechanical errors (e.g., grammatical errors, typos, etc.) appear in the text? Yes No
Errors suggest the author might be careless in presenting information.
Did you discover the site via a search engine? Yes No
If yes, how does the search engine you used look for information and, if relevent, rate the sites it retrieves?