Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How to evaluate information you find on a website

Image from Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest
Powerful search tools like Google bring the world of information to our screens. However, trying to scan through long lists of results looking for resources appropriate for university level research can be overwhelming. Take a moment to ask yourself the following key questions then you will be able to critically evaluate potential online resources to determine if they are right for your needs.

Firstly you need to check the domain:
  • .gov – government site
  • .com – commercial site
  • .edu/.ac – educational or research material
  • .org – organisation (Note: Not all .org sites are the official sites. Check the “About us” information on the site to make sure.)
  • .net – networks, some organisations, Internet Service Providers

Now that you have checked the domain, open the webpage and look closely at the content:
  • Authority - Who is the author and can you trust him/her/the organisation? 
  • Currency - How old is it? When was the site last updated? 
  • Clarity - Can you understand what the author is saying? 
  • Objectivity - Can you detect a bias? Is this an objective study or a personal opinion? 
  • Coverage - Can you find further information linked to this site? 
  • Audience - Who does the site target? Are you the intended audience?

For more information on this topic see our Evaluating Websites Guide.



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