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How to Evaluate Internet Resources

The internet contains a wealth of information, but there are no controls over who publishes and what is published on the internet. Thus, it is up to the user to determine whether or not an internet resource contains reliable information. Resources must meet certain criteria in order to prove their credibility, such as authority (who wrote and who published the article?), and accuracy (are the facts verifiable, are sources cited?). Equipped with these standards, the user can navigate the vast amounts of online information and locate quality sources. 

Consider these criteria: 

  • Who has posted this information? Evaluate the credentials of the publisher and whether or not they are connected to a certain organization.
  • Why has the information been posted? Consider whether the information has been posted to sell something, to sway readers to a certain view, or to provide objective information.
  • How current is the information? Be cautious of “last updated” dates, as they may not indicate a revision of the material. In many cases no date is provided for the information at all.
  • How accurate is the information? Ensure the information found online can be verified by other sources such as books or journals.   

Internet addresses can also be helpful in identifying the purpose and quality of internet sites: 
.edu is used for educational institutions in the United States
.gc.ca indicates a Canadian government site
.gov is used for U.S. government sites 
.com is used for commercial sites
.org is used by organizations