Finding Reputable Digital Resources
how to resources that can help them maximize your learning
A. Why is it important to evaluate your resources?
The world is full of information to be found—however, not all of it is valid, useful, or accurate. Evaluating sources of information that you are considering using in your writing is an important step in any research activity. Click here to learn more about the "Why's".
B. Where can I get reputable information?
You can visit the Wikipedia entry for the list of Internet top-level domains at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Internet_top-level_domains to learn more about the types of domains associated with reputable information.
Information from reputable sources will be generally found in locations having a domain suffix such as:
- .edu (education)
- .gov (government)
- .mil (US military)
- .org (may be a non-profit organization)
D. Is there a specific list of criteria I can simply follow?
The following information from http://unfccc.int/essential_background/library/items/1420.php is a set of criteria one can use to evaluate from web resources.
Five traditional criteria, used to determine the quality of print information in libraries, can also be applied to the evaluation of web resources:
Criteria 1: Accuracy
To determine how reliable and free from error the information contained on a website is, remember to look at who is hosting the site. Is it a University, a government, a professional association, a commercial host, an advocacy group, a publisher? What are their biases? A good website should state its purpose and intended audience. It is always a good idea to check with other web resources, journals or magazines that publish website reviews to see if the site has received a stamp of approval, and if so, by whom. Always remember to verify the information on the website with information found in other print and/or web-based sources.
Criteria 2: Authority
To determine the authorship of a website, examine the page closely for information about the author and to see if anyone else has contributed to the site. Check information on the WebPages to see if it includes references. A good website should provide a way to contact the producers of the site. Identify the type of Webpage i.e. educational, professional, personal, advocacy, advertising, etc. Determine where they are getting their information. Check to see if the author or contributor to a Webpage has published in print. If so, do these print sources provide you with additional information on who he/she is and their qualifications? Check to see if the author(s) have created other websites. See if the other websites provide more information about the author(s).
Criteria 3: Objectivity
To determine the objectivity of a website, check if advertising and informational content are being supplied by the same person or organization. If so, examine whether there is a bias to the informational content. Keep in mind that many websites with excellent information are sponsored by commercial entities or take advertisements to finance the website.
Criteria 4: Currency
To determine the currency of a website, find out when the page was last updated. Also look to see if there are broken links on the site, it could be an indication of an abandoned page. You should also check to see how often new links appear on the site.
Criteria 5: Coverage
To determine if the information is adequately covered on a website, compare the information with information found on other websites. Does one site provide more information, more references, more contacts? Also compare the information on the website with information available in print sources such as books, journals, reports, etc. (if available).