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Evaluating Internet Sources

It is very important that you learn to critically evaluate web sources. It is far easier to publish to the web then it is to get a book published, there is no editor or lawyer checking facts. If you get a source from a library or use your textbook, someone checked to see it met agreed upon standards. Web publishing does not require any of these steps be taken. When you look at a site, here are some things to check for to ensure that the information you obtain is truthful and accurate.

  • Is there an author listed on the page? Does it give you links to his/her home page? Can you tell if he/she has good credentials for posting this information?
  • Did you check the information you found here against your own general knowledge or knowledge of the topic gained elsewhere? Remember, if you can find errors, there are probably more that you haven’t spotted.
  • Is the page affiliated to an organization? If you are looking at abortion as a topic, information obtained from NOW will be a lot different then that obtained from a site associated with National Right to Life. Both sites will be interested in making a point.
  • Does the information on the page correspond to information that you have found elsewhere? If so, then the page is probably a good one, especially if it is linked from a page you have already found useful.
  • Does the page list a date it was created and the date it was last updated? If you need current information, a web page that was created and last updated five years ago will not be very helpful.
  • Finally, if you are still not sure, ask your parents or teachers for a second opinion.

Make sure that you get the bibliographic information needed to cite this source in the paper. Generally you will need to include the title of the page, the URL, author if supplied, affiliation of the page if any and date of access. To make sure that the bibliographic citation is correct, please use Noodletools.