Find Credible, Current, and Relevant Sources!
Books, articles, and websites share some of the same evaluation criteria. The work's purpose/scope, author's credentials, writing style, citing (or lack of), and publisher type (university press, mass-market publishing) should be part of evaluating any work. Web sites require thorough evaluation because the quality of the content can vary so widely. Things to keep in mind regarding web sites:
- Purpose: Who is the audience? Web sites can exist for educational purposes, recreational or entertainment reason, to promote a cause, to sell a product, or simply to make information available. The "About Us" or "Our Philosophy" sections can give you information on a site's purpose.
- Authority: Sites with a .com domain are commercial, often created by companies with a product ot sell or a set of ideas to promote. Sites with a .edu domain are sponsored by educational institutions, often universities. Sites designated .org are usually hosted by nonprofit organizations and may promote a specific cause or agenda as well as providing information. Sites sponsored by agencies of government at various levels have a .gov domain.
- Currency: Many sites indicate the date created as well as latest updates.
- Audience: Sites may be aimed at popular audiences, a small group of fellow scholars, or followers of a particular cause. Be sure to consider any assumptions or worldview that may underlie the information.
- Coverage: A site may treat a topic in depth or simply provide an overview.
Here is a selection of sources on the web to help you in evaluating online information.