Guide for evaluating Internet resources.

The Internet is an uncontrolled environment, anyone can post any information to it for any purpose and at any time. It is therefore useful to bear in mind the following questions to help you evaluate websites and make sure that the information you use is of good quality.

  1. Who is the information provider?
  2. Are they a reliable source of this information?
  3. Why is the information provided?
  4. When was it last updated?

Accuracy.

  • Is the information reliable and error free?
  • Is there an editor or someone who verifies/checks the information?
  • Are the sources for any factual information clearly listed so they can be verified in another source?
  • What is the purpose of the document and why was it produced?
  • Is the information in the resource accurate?
  • Does it look professional?

Authority.

  • Who is the author or producer/publisher? Is the page signed?
  • Can the author be contacted for clarification or be informed of new information?
  • Is the author qualified or an expert in the field? What credentials are listed for the author(s)?
  • Is the site sponsored? If so, by whom? Check the URL (e.g. http://www.fbi.gov) or domain e.g. .edu, .com, .ac.uk, .org, .net.
  • Is there a way of verifying the legitimacy of the page/site's sponsor? - e.g. phone number or postal address?

Coverage.

  • Are the scope and limits clearly stated? Is the title informative? Does the content fit the scope?
  • What does this page/site offer that is not found elsewhere?
  • What is its intrinsic value?
  • How in-depth is the material? How detailed is the information?
  • Are the links (if any) evaluated and do they complement the document's theme?
  • Is the information presented cited correctly?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What topics are covered?
  • What is the level of detail provided about the subject?
  • Is the information in the resource limited to certain time periods?

Currency.

  • Is the page dated? When was it produced?
  • If so, when was it last updated? How frequently is it updated?
  • How current are the links? Are they updated regularly? Have some expired or moved?
  • How many dead links are on the page?
  • Is the information on the page outdated?

Objectivity.

  • Does the information suggest any kind of bias?
  • Are there political, ideological, or other biases?
  • Is the page designed to sway opinion?
  • Is there any advertising on the page? What is its proportion to the rest of the site?
  • What aims/goals/objectives does this page meet?
  • What opinions (if any) are expressed by the author?
  • Determine if page is a mask for advertising; if so information might be biased.
  • Ask yourself why was this written and for whom?

Sources.

This document is an amalgamation of ideas from the following publications: