Evaluating Internet Sources
Consider the following criteria when evaluating the information that you have found.
- Author- Is the author's name listed on the page? In many instances Web pages are the creation of Web masters whose expertise is more in page design than in the knowledge of the contents of the page. If the author's name is listed, is there an e-mail or other address with which to contact them? If the author is an organization, is it one that is well known and respected?
- Comprehensiveness- Is the information a summary or does it cover all aspects of the topic? It is not unusual to find information that is just an excerpt or summary of a larger work in a printed source. Compare the information on your Web site to a print resource such as a book or an encyclopedia.
- Reliability-What is the origin of the source? Examine the source by checking the domain in the URL(Uniform Resource Locator) or Internet address. The domain is the last part of the URL. The most common domains are "edu" for educational institutions,"gov"for the United States government,"com"for commercial entities and "org"for organization. Countries such as Canada and France use country codes as their domain names,"ca" for Canada and "fr" for France. Government and education sites are thought to be more reliable because there is no hidden agenda such as trying to sell you a product but commercial sites can and do provide valid information as well. Further check the reliability of a Web site you're planning to use information from by checking for bad grammar, misspelled words. Is the information objective or are there obvious biases.
- Currency-When was the information on the Web page posted or last updated? On Web pages, the date of the last revision is usually at the bottom of the home page, or sometimes it's on every page. Ask yourself what are the inclusive dates of the information on the Web page. For example does it only cover information for the year 1999 and you need information from the year 2000.
Here's a link to Johns Hopkins University's tutorial page: "Evaluating Information Found on the Internet."
Here's a link to The Univ. of California Berkley's tutorial on: Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask by University of California-Berkeley - Teaching Library Internet Workshops