Evaluating Internet Sources

Evaluation of Web sites is essential if you are to use the Internet as a source for research information. Although evaluation procedures are evolving, the following guidelines should provide criteria for determining the quality of different Web sites.

Remember, the Web is only one source of information. It can be extremely useful for researching some topics, and less useful for others. To research a topic thoroughly, use a variety of sources - both print and electronic.

 AUTHORITY

1. What or who is the source of the information?

2. Is the author/publisher a recognized authority? Is there a link to the page from a recognizable authority (university, encyclopedia, etc.)?

3. Is the information from a work, which has previously been published (magazine, newspaper reprint, doctoral thesis, etc.)?

4. Is there a way to verify the legitimacy of the author - email address, phone number,  postal address, etc?

Note: The URL (address) of a Web site frequently identifies the category of the source of the information: Edu - a site originating at a school or university; Gov - government site; Com - commercial site; Org - a site sponsored by an organization; ~ - a personal Web site.

 ACCURACY/CREDIBILITY

1. Are the sources for any factual information listed so they can be verified in another source?

2. Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, etc., errors?

3. If statistical data is presented in graphs and/or charts, are they clearly labeled and easy to read?

 BIAS

1. What is the purpose of the Web site - to persuade, inform, provide a public service, and entertain?

2. What is the goal/aim of the person or group presenting material?

3. If there is any advertising on the page, is it clearly differentiated from informational content?

 CURRENCY

1. Is a date included? Does the date indicate when the information was a. first written? b. placed on the Web? c. last updated?

 RELEVANCE

1.  Does the page really answer my research question?

 AUDIENCE

1.  Who was the information created for?

2.  Can I understand it?

3.  Is it too advanced? Or too basic?

 COVERAGE

1. If there is a print version, is the coverage the same?

2. Is the site complete or under construction?

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