Evaluating Internet Sources

Last update: June 20, 2012 ShareThis

 

The volume of information on the Internet is enormous, with few controls governing its accuracy or reliability.  Anyone can publish anything on the Internet.  Simply because information exists on the Internet or World Wide Web does not mean you should use it as a reference source, so it is important that you analyze the material.

Here are a few questions you should ask when evaluating information found on the Internet.

QUESTIONS FOR EVALUATING INTERNET SOURCES

AUTHORITY

  • What group or organization is responsible for the page?

    The domain name can provide clues:
    .edu = four-year educational institutions
    .org = not-for-profit organization
    .gov = governmental body/agency
    .com = commercial entity/for-profit organization
    .mil = United States military

  • Who is the author of the page?
  • What are his or her credentials?
  • Is there a contact address and phone number?

                                                   

ACCURACY

  • Are the sources for any factual information clearly listed?
  • Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and other typographical errors?

OBJECTIVITY

  • Is the information free of advertising?
  • If there is advertising on the page, is it clearly marked as advertising?
  • Is the author promoting a particular point-of-view?

CURRENCY

  • Are there dates to show when the page was first placed on the Web and when it was last revised?
  • Are the links up-to-date?

COVERAGE

  • Is the page completed or still under construction?

 To help you assess Internet resources, we have created two evaluation sheets:

  • A basic evaluation asks general questions about your Internet resource (pdf)
  • A detailed evaluation asks more specific questions about your Internet resource, including its use of charts and graphs (pdf).

 

Delores Carlito, General Reference Librarian

Updated 12/05; 1/05; 08/03; 07/02

Created 07/00

Used By Permission

Copyright 1998-2008 University of Alabama at Birmingham

Mervyn H. Sterne Library