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How to Evaluate Web Sources

The Internet can be a great tool for research, but finding quality web materials and using them to your advantage in your writing can be challenging.
There is the danger of being mislead if you do not actually evaluate the resources you find on the Internet. Remember, any person can publish almost anything on the Web about any topic.

Types of Web Pages available on the Internet:
Informative pages
Personal web pages
Political/interest group pages
Marketing-oriented or “infomercial” pages
Entertainment pages


What to look for in Web Pages:
Accuracy
Authority
Coverage
Currency
Objectivity

  Accuracy
Is the information without spelling and grammatical errors?
Can you easily read the graphs and charts?
Does the author cite the sources of information?
Who is the creator of the site? Does he give a date of creation of the site? Does he provide an email or any other contact information?

  Authority
Is there a name of the site’s author and what are his credentials if he appears as an expert. Check for information like “About the Author”.
Where is the document published? Check the URL domain for .edu, .com,. gov, .org, .net, .au, .us, .uk., etc. to help determine if its origin is a business, a university, a political party, etc.

  Coverage
What topics are covered? What is the purpose of the site?
Is the site free or is there a fee for the information?
How in-depth is the material? Are there references to other sources, footnotes, hyperlinks, reference pages?
Is there a table of contents or a menu that shows you the coverage of the subject?
Does the author consider opposing points of view?

  Currency
Does the information cover recent changes or advances in the field or topic you are researching?
Look for indications in the text for dates or references to a past event
How current are the links?

  Objectivity
What is the general purpose of the Web site?
Are they trying to sell you something?
Do they have a political bias?
Do they provide you with accurate and complete information on this topic?
Are legal disclaimers included on the site?

   
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