Center for Writers - Resources

EVALUATING INTERNET SOURCES (BRIEF)



To determine whether an Internet source is appropriate for your project, use the following criteria:

Accuracy
     Is the material current, factual and comprehensive? Obviously no one source can give you all the information about a topic, but a source that leaves out important
    information may be  attempting to mislead you. Look for a source that is correct today (ongoing research can change what is considered accurate), a source that
    gives specifics rather than unsupported generalizations, and a source that attempts to include a range of detail.

Reasonableness
    Is the material objective and reasoned? Does it acknowledge other points of view in a balanced manner and avoid logical fallacies? A site that uses language
    which is inflammatory or has a slanted tone is likely to be attempting to focus your attention on an emotional reaction rather than on a well considered presentation
    of fact. Does the information seem believable? If not, you should double check it against other sources. Look for a source that engages the subject thoughtfully, a
    source that is concerned with a balanced view of the material.

Credibility
    Does the site show evidence that it relies on known or respected authority or is supported by a credible organization? A site that gives information about the
    credentials of the author or provides details about the reputation of the organization shows concern about demonstrating reliability. Writing that is relatively error
    free is another clue. Most educated people are careful to review their writing for mechanical or grammatical problems. Numerous errors may indicate the source
    is questionable.  Look for an authoritative source, a source that supplies some valid evidence that allows you to trust it.

Support
    Does the site list sources and contact information, provide corroborating evidence, and  support claims by documenting where the information came from?
    Corporate sites, for example, usually make claims based on marketing considerations rather than objective fact, so make sure you check such claims against
    information from other sources. If you can’t find at least three sources that agree, you should investigate further before you come to any conclusions. You will
    want to find out what the range of opinions is or why experts disagree. Look for a source that provides convincing evidence for claims, a source that provides
    information you can find reiterated in other places.