Answered By: Emily King
Last Updated: Jul 14, 2015     Views: 1642

There is no guarantee that information found on the web is credible or reliable. Therefore, it is very important that you ask some basic questions to judge the quality of the information you find on the web.

Authority

Who publishes/produces the website?

Use the web address (URL) to determine the website "Domain." Common domains include:

  • .edu - Educational Institution
  • .gov - Official Government Agency
  • .org - Nonprofit Organization
  • .com - Commercial Site

Can you identify the author?

There should be an easily identifiable person, organization, or agency who takes responsibility for creating and maintaining the information being presented.

Can you contact the author or organization?

  • Email address?
  • Mailing address?
  • Phone number?

What are the credentials of the author?

  • Academic degrees of the author?
  • Additional relevant training?
  • Institutional affiliation (ex. Professor at Yale University)?
  • Reputable agency or organization (ex. American Medical Association)?

Accuracy

Is the website free of grammatical and spelling errors?

Misspellings and poor grammar should not be overlooked when assessing a website.

Can the information be verified?

Sources of information should be properly documented or cited. Are references clearly displayed?

Does the information seem credible?

How does the information compare with other sources on the same topic? If possible, compare with sources that have gone through the editorial process such as books, magazine and journal articles.

Objectivity

Is there a clear bias or is the information fair and balanced?

Is the purpose of the site apparent or clearly stated? Many nonprofit organizations try to promote a specific agenda and their information may be biased. Most sites have a link on the main page labeled "About Us." Read about the organization to determine any potential bias.

What is the overall style of language used on the site?

Is the information in an objective, reasoned manner? Is the information inflammatory and emotional?

Does the site include advertising?

Are the ads clearly separate from the content? Is the site simply created to promote a product or service?

Timeliness

When was the information published?

  • Is a copyright date or date of creation clearly displayed?
  • When was the page last updated?
  • Are links on the site current and working?

Is it important that the information be current?

If you are dealing with current events, legal, medical, or scientific information, currency may be vital. If you are researching a historical issue such as the U.S. Civil War, then currency may not be as vital.

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