As the internet continues to grow exponentially, the need to carefully evaluate information sources becomes critical.
The reason for this evaluation need is the nature of the internet itself. Unlike most print resources such as journals and magazines that go through a filtering process, information put on the web is mostly unfiltered.
The ease of constructing web pages contributes to this problem since much of the information found on the internet varies greatly in quality; dubious sources can be found as easily as credible ones.
Guidelines for Evaluating Websites
- Is it easy to determine the "author"?
- Does the author or compiler of the site list his or her occupation, education, or other credentials?
- Is the person qualified on the topic?
- Is an organization or institution responsible for the content?
- Is there contact information (e.g. e-mail address for author/producer?
- Is there a link to a page describing the purpose of the sponsoring organization?
- Is the information presented as fact (vs. opinion)?
- If the information is presented as fact, can it be assessed for accuracy (i.e. are there footnotes or references)?
- Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and other typographical errors?
- Are the goals or aims of the person or group presenting the material clearly stated?
- Is the information provided as a public service?
- Is the information free of advertising?
- If there is any advertising on the page, is it clearly differentiated from the information content?
- Is the information biased?
- Is there a hidden agenda?
- Do any links on the page reveal a bias of the author?
- Is there an indication of when the information was created, was placed on the Web, or updated?
- Are there any other indications that the material is kept current?
- If the information is published in different editions, is it clear what edition the page is from?
- Is there an indication that the page has been completed and is not still under construction?
- Does the information source cover the topic extensively?
- If there is a print equivalent to the Web page, is there clear indication of whether the entire work or only a portion of it is available on the Web?