When searching online, it's important to carefully evaluate the results. Almost anyone can have a webpage, and information on the web may be may be biased, undocumented, or just plain wrong. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to use a particular source.
- If sources are cited, are they reliable?
- How does the information compare with that in other sources on the topic?
- Can the information be verified by other sources?
- Is the information free of factual errors?
- Are there spelling, typographical or grammatical errors?
- Who are the intended readers? Who are the authors/creators trying to reach?
- Are the language, vocabulary, style and tone appropriate for the intended audience?
- What are the audience demographics? (age, educational level, etc.)
- Are the authors/creators targeting a particular group or segment of society?
- Who wrote the information?
- What are the authors’/ creators’ credentials for this particular topic?
- Are the authors/creators affiliated with a particular organization or institution? What does that affiliation suggest about the authors/creators?
- Is the publisher/sponsor of the source reputable?
- Are the authors’/creators’ information provided so that you may submit questions or feedback?
- Is the content current? Does the date of the information directly affect the accuracy or usefulness of the information?
- When was the content first uploaded, last modified or updated? Are there ‘dead’ links within the source?
- What is the authors’/creators’ point of view?
- Is the point of view subtle or explicit?
- Is the information presented as fact or opinion?
- If opinion, is the opinion supported by credible data or informed argument?
- Is the information one-sided? Are alternate views represented?
- Does the point of view effect how you view the information?
- What is the authors’/creators’ purpose or objective? To explain, provide new information or news, entertain, persuade or sell?
- Does the source achieve effectively its purpose?
Source: Web Evaluation, Auburn University Libraries. Reproduced with permission.