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Evaluating Web Resources

The Internet provides access to a wide variety of information. Almost anyone can create a webpage, and that creates a huge problem for serious researchers. How do you judge the quality of the sources you find on the Internet?

Most print resources such as books, magazines, and newspapers are edited or reviewed before publication. Most information on the Internet is NOT reviewed. You must evaluate the information you find online. If you cannot determine the quality of a particular source, consult other resources such as books, magazines and encyclopedias, or consult a professor or librarian to find out more about the topic.

When viewing a webpage, follow the five traditional points in evaluating print resources:

ACCURACY

How reliable is the information? Check to see who is publishing the page.
Pay attention to the domain of the website. Is this information coming from an educational institution (.edu), a company (.com), the government (.gov.), or an organization (.org)?
Is the information verified or reviewed by anyone?
Is the information free from error?
Is it purposely misleading?

AUTHORITY

Who is the author?
What are his/her qualifications to write on this subject?
If the author is an institution, what is its credibility in this area?
Many web pages are posted without an author.

OBJECTIVITY

What is the purpose of the information?
Is it meant to inform or entertain? Is it biased or objective?

CURRENCY

When was the page created?
Has it been revised lately?
Is the information up to date?
The date of creation and/or revision is usually on the bottom of the page.

COVERAGE

Does the site contain original information or does it link to other sites?
Can you trust the linked content?
Who is the intended audience?
Does the page seem to meet the needs of the intended audience?