It is very important to keep in mind all information found on the internet may not be accurate. With this technology it is possible for people with no expertise in a subject area to post documents on the web as factual. Below are some helpful questions and hints to help you in evaluating web resources.
Consider the Source
- Does the web page give you any indication of who produced it?
- Is there an author listed?
- Is there any contact information (phone, address, or email) for that author?
- What is the url (uniform resource locator, or address/location) at the top of the toolbar?
An author's name on the web page will allow you to gather information on that person, or any materials they may have previously published, etc. If there is a way for you to contact the author, you will be able to gather information from the source itself. If there is an "about us" link, useful information may be provided about the creator or organization. Finally the URL will indicate to you the type of source you are accessing.
- .com - commercial
- .edu - educational
- .gov - government
- .org - organization
- .mil - military
Look for Timeliness
- Are you looking for current information?
- Are there related links?
More and more often designers of web pages are now listing a last updated date at the bottom of their web page. This will indicate to you whether the information was updated a week ago or a year ago. Access the site several times to see how often the site is updated. View any links listed on the website to see how current the related links are as well.
Consider the Content
- What information is the page trying to convey?
- What is the tone of the article?
- Who is it geared toward?
- Is the article well written?
- Is there a bias or point of view expressed?
Use your own critical thinking skills to analyze the content on the web site.
Remember, the best way to evaluate web resources in many cases is by comparison with other non-web resources. What other materials or organizations might be authorities on your subject matter?