When you're conducting research online, it may be difficult to determine if a website contains credible information. Almost anyone can publish anything online, which provides a wealth of information for scholars and students. However, the ease of publication may promote information which is false, faulty, or misleading. When evaluating websites for credibility, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is the author? Is his or her identity clear? What are his or her credentials?
- What organizations are they affiliated with, and are they credible? Can you find additional information about the author from other websites?
- Does the author provide evidence for his or her assertions? Are their sources up-to-date and available? Does he or she list citations or a bibliography? Where are their sources for the statistics they use?
- Is the site affiliated with an academic institution, organization, journal, or group? Does the URL contain .gov, .edu, or .org?
- Does the site have an About page so that you can read the mission statement? What point-of-views or biases might the organization have?
- What is the purpose of the site? Does it educate, persuade, or sell anything? Does it contain advertising? If so, how might advertising affect the website's content?
- Do you know when the website was last updated? Is the web page recent?
- Does the information on the site concur with what you have learned about the subject from other sources? If not, what surprises you about the information you learned?
- Does the site contain links to other sites? Are the linked sites affiliated with reputable organizations or people?
What tips do you use when evaluating web sources? Comment below, and share your strategies.