No person or group
checks the information that is published on the Internet for accuracy
You are responsible for evaluating the authority and accuracy of any information
that you intend to use for research purposes.
You may also wish to sign up for the Evaluating Websites Workshop!
To do so, consider the following:
1. What are the clues to
- Date--is the date the information
was written and/or last updated clearly marked?
- Author-who is responsible
for the information on the page? Does the page list professional credentials
or experiences which qualify that person/organization as an expert on
- Affiliations-is the author
identified with any group or organization which might influence his
- Contact Information-is
there a way to contact the author (email, phone number, or postal address)?
- Background-is the information
presented verifiable in outside sources?
2. Who is responsible
for the information being presented?
- Is it from an individual or an
- What are the goals of the author
in presenting this information?
- Are the qualifications that allow
the author to speak authoritatively on the topic listed?
- Are the background and expertise
of the individual/organization given?
- If you have questions about any
of these, email the author and ask.
3. Where is the information
- Domain names gives basic information
on where the data is originating. The domain name is the first piece
of information after the http:// of an Internet address. For example,
the domain name for Mt. SAC is www.mtsac.edu.
- Extensions are part of the domain
name (such as .edu) and indicate the type of organization that is responsible
for the information. Common extensions include:
- .gov A U.S. government website.
Governmental agencies publish most of their information online.
- We can assume some level
of editorial control over the content.
- .edu A college or university
website. The schools publish information, as do faculty, staff,
- We can assume limited
editorial control of content.
- .org An organizational website.
From professional (American Medical Association) to political (NRA).
- We can assume some editorial
control of content, but must consider organizational goals.
- .net An Internet service
company. Internet service companies allow subscribers to publish
- We can assume only the
author has editorial control of the content.
- .com A commercial website.
Commercial websites deserve the most scrutiny by researchers.
- We can assume the company
has editorial control and intends to sell you something, whether
a product or opinion.
4. Did someone else consider
this information to be acceptable?
- Was it reviewed or recommended
in a professional journal?
- Was it linked from another site
whose authority and reliability you trust?
- Most search engines do not
screen or evaluate the sites that they index.
- Directories and pathfinders
are based on the selectivity of their creators.
5. Can you write a 1-2
sentence explanation of why your Internet source is authoritative enough
to include in your list of works cited?
--Your audience will be looking
at your works cited to determine how credible you are as an author.
*Created May, 2000
by Deb Distante