Evaluating Internet Sources

This page provides questions to ask yourself to help you determine the credibility of an Internet source. The fact that anyone can publish information on the internet makes such evaluation very important.

If you cannot determine the author and/or the sponsoring organization then the site should not be considered credible.

Authorship

  • Is there an author? You may need to do some clicking and scrolling to find the author’s name. Check the home page or an "about this site" link.
  • Can you tell whether an author is knowledgeable and credible (Occupation, years of experience, position, or education)?Look for a home page, which may provide evidence of the author's expertise. Is there contact information, such as an email address?

Accuracy

  • Are there typos on the page?
  • Can the information be verified by other sources?
  • Does the information seem reasonable?
  • Are sources for facts listed and easily verified?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?

Sponsorship

  • Who, if anyone, sponsors this site? The sponsor of a site is often named and described on the home page.
  • What does the domain name tell you? The domain name often specifies the type of group hosting the site: commercial (.com), educational (.edu), nonprofit (.org) governmental (.gov), military (.mil), or network (.net).

Purpose and Audience

  • Why was the site created: To argue a position? To sell a product? To inform or teach?
  • Who is the site's intended audience?

Currency

  • How current is the site? Check for the date of publication or the latest update.
  • How current are the site's links? If many of the links no longer work, the site may be too dated for your purposes.

Conclusion

  • Be very critical of any information you find on the Web and carefully examine each site.
  • Web pages are susceptible to both accidental and deliberate alteration, and may move or disappear with no notice.
  • Print out or download all pages you plan to use in your research so that your bibliography will be complete and accurate.
  • When in doubt ask a librarian!
  • Georgetown University Library. Evaluating Internet Resources 2009-2017. https://www.library.georgetown.edu/tutorials/research-guides/evaluating-internet-content.


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