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Evaluate Internet Resources

how do i...?

The Internet is a wonderful avenue to explore for information. However, since anyone can publish on the Internet you want to ensure that the information you are getting is accurate and reliable. Unlike most print sources such as books and journals where a lot of filtering takes place -- peer review or editing, for example, the information you're getting from a majority of Internet resources is unfiltered. This guide provides a starting point for evaluating websites and other Internet information. Additional questions or comments may be sent to Kwasi Sarkodie-Mensah: sarkodik@bc.edu

Authority:

  • Who is the author/producer of the document?
  • Is the author/producer an expert on the subject, as indicated on the credentials page?
  • Is the sponsor/location of the site appropriate to the materials as shown in the URL?

Examples:

.biz for business organizations
.com for commercial products or commercially-sponsored sites
.edu for educational or research material
.gov for government resources
.info for unrestricted use
.int for international organizations
.mil for US Department of Defense
.name for personal use
.net for networks
.org
for nonprofit organizations

    * (~NAME in URL may indicate a personal Homepage with no official connections)

  • Does the author/producer provide a "Mail to" link that allows for feedback or submission of questions?

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Accuracy:


  • Is the information reliable or free from error?
  • Is there a way to verify the information?
  • Can you detect political, ideological, or religious bias?

 

Currency:


When was the information created or last updated?

  • Is there a date for when the information was first written?
  • Is there a date for when the information was placed on the web?
  • Is there a date for when the information was last revised?
  • Do the links still work? If not, it may be an indication that the information has not been updated recently.

 

Purpose:


What appears to be the purpose of this information?

  • Inform others of new research?
  • Summarize the current status of a research interest?
  • Advocate a particular position on the subject?
  • Stimulate further discussion on the topic?
  • Publicize a product?

 

Audience:


Who is the intended audience?

  • Beginners?
  • Experts?
  • Professionals?
  • Advocates?
  • Consumers?

 

Coverage:


  • Does the information fully cover what you need?
  • Is the information too simple?
  • Is the information too technical, or complicated?
  • Are there links to similar pages that will provide more information?
  • Are the links relevant, or are they just a collection of other sites?

 

Style and Functionality:


  • Is the site designed clearly and logically with well organized subsections?
  • Is the writing style appropriate for the intended audience?
  • Is the site easy to navigate?
  • Are the "Back" "Home", "Go to Top" icons and labels well labeled?
  • Do any graphics enhance or clarify the information presented?
  • Or do the graphics distract the user and slow down transmission?

 

Web Sites:


The following links are select online resources to assist you in evaluating the information you retrieve via the Internet: