Remember, not everything found on the Internet is reliable. Anyone can put anything up on the Web. When you find information that you might consider using on a college paper or project, be sure to answer these questions to determine if the information is trustworthy:
- Who published this website?
- What are the author's credentials?
- Does the author indicate his/her position or educational background?
- Is the author a researcher in the field, a popular writer who has interest in the subject, or a total unknown who is stating his/her opinion on an issue about which he/she may not be knowledgeable?
- Is there information about contacting the author? (E-mail address, phone number, etc.)
- Is the author a respected corporation or government agency?
- Does the author indicate the method of research used or provide any supportive evidence?
- Check the "top level domain" in the URL (website address). Examples:
- .org=organization (non-profit)
- Has the site been edited, verified or peer-reviewed by others?
- Is it well-written and free of errors?
- Are correct grammar and spelling used?
- Are the author's sources cited?
- Are statistics or data current?
- Does the author's affiliation or the sponsors of the website influence the opinions or views presented?
- Is the information fact or opinion?
- Is there a cultural or religious bias?
- Are there advertisements?
- Is the author trying to manipulate your thinking with this information?
- Is the information up-to-date?
- When was the site produced?
- How often is the site updated? Are the updates stated?
- Do the links work?
- Are all aspects of the subject covered?
- What level of detail is provided?
- Is the information limited to certain time periods?
- What types of materials are covered?
- To what audience is the material aimed? (Scholars, general readers, children, etc.)