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Internet Source Evaluation Criteria

Confused about what is a creditable source on the Inernet? Here are some guidelines.

Internet Source Evaluation Critera

Internet Source Evaluation Criteria
 Information quality on the web varies tremendously.
 Take care that you are getting quality information suitable for
 scholarly purposes or critical decision making. 

  Questions To Ask Significant Factors...
  • Are the sources for any factual information clearly listed so they can be verified in another source?
  • Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and other typographical errors?
  • Is it clear who has the ultimate responsibility for the accuracy of the content of the material?
  • Almost anyone can publish on the Web.
  • Most Web information is not verified by editors and/or fact checkers.
  • Errors not only indicate a lack of quality control, but can actually produce inaccuracies in information.
  • Web standards to ensure accuracy are not fully developed.
  • What is the nature and purpose of the page?
  • Is it clear who is sponsoring the page?
  • Is there a link to a page describing the purpose of the sponsoring organization?
  • Is there a way of verifying the legitimacy of the page’s sponsor? That is, is there a phone number or postal address to contact for more information? An email address is not enough!
  • Is it clear who wrote the material and are the author’s qualifications for writing on this topic clearly stated?
  • If the material is protected by copyright, is the name of the copyright holder given?
  • Often difficult to determine authorship of Web sources.
  • If author’s name is listed, his/her qualifications frequently absent.
  • Publisher responsibility not often indicated.
  • However, beware of argumentum ad hominem.
  • Is the information provided as a public service?
  • What biases might the author(s) have?
  • Is the information free of advertising?
  • If there is any advertising on the page, is it clearly differentiated from the informational content?
  • Goals/aims of persons or groups presenting material often not clearly stated.
  • Web often functions as a "virtual soapbox".
  • However, beware of argumentum ad hominem.
  • Are there dates on the page to indicate when the page was written, first placed on the web, and last revised?
  • Are there any other indications that the material is kept current?
  • If material is presented in graphs and/or charts, is it clearly stated when the data was gathered?
  • If the information is published in different editions, is it clearly labeled what edition the page is from?
  • Dates not always included on Web pages.
  • If included, a date may have various meanings:  date information first written, date information placed on Web, or date information last revised
  • Netscape's "View: Page Info" command may reveal dates.
  • Is there an indication that the page has been completed and is not still under construction? 
  • If there is a print equivalent to the Web page, is there a clear indication of whether the entire work is available on the Web or only parts of it?
  • If the material is from a work which is out of copyright (as is often the case with a dictionary or thesaurus) has there been an effort to update the material to make it more current?
  • Web coverage may differ from print coverage.
  • Often hard to determine extent of Web coverage.

 Much of this page is based on: Evaluate Your Resources (University of Louisville)