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Evaluating Information  

Where did this information come from? Why is it here? How useful is it?
Last Updated: Apr 16, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Evaluating Information





·          Anyone can publish a website that looks official.

·          Some web junk looks like junk, other web junk looks like treasure.

·          Unlike libraries, there is no overall quality control on the web. Most web information is not fact-  checked.

·          Some websites are not maintained; others disappear.

·          Tampering, human error, greed, bias, and unsubstantiated opinions abound.




v  Why does this website exist?

To inform?

To persuade?

To sell?

To fulfill a student’s course assignment?

It might appear perfect, yet be a carefully disguised advertisement for a profit-making venture or an organization with a bias.


v  Who created this website?

How qualified is the author? What are his/her credentials? Are the credentials accurate?

Where did the author get his/her “facts”? Can the information be verified?

Is it published by a recognized source such as a professional organization, university department, or government agency?

Even with credentials, we can’t be sure it’s accurate!


v  How up-to-date is the information?

Does it include recent changes on your topic?

Look at the top or bottom of the screen for a date.

Is this the date it was written, posted on the web, revised, or accessed?

Dates on some websites automatically update whenever you look at them.

It might not be obvious that the information is too old to be useful.

The Internet doesn't have employees who remove out-of-date web sites.


v  How accurate, balanced, and in-depth is it?

Is it fact, opinion, or propaganda?

Compared to other sources, does it seem accurate?

            What is its point-of-view?

            Does it provide all sides of an issue?

Is it adequately in-depth for your assignment?

Is it too easy or too difficult?

Is it free of spelling, grammatical, and other typographical errors?

Does it avoid frivolous details?

Just because it's on your topic doesn't mean it's a good source.


v  Were you referred by a reliable source?

Were you referred by your instructor, textbook, university departments, or a respected organization?

Generally, search engines don’t evaluate quality. Instructors, textbooks, universities, and respected organizations have worthy objectives and reputations to protect.



v     If you can determine the motive behind the webpage's creation, you can better judge its content.

v     Be extremely cautious when selecting a website found by a search engine.


v     Find a second source. If your website is greatly different from other sources, keep searching.


v     To research thoroughly, use a variety of web and non-web sources.


v     Be skeptical.

v     If you have doubts, consult your professor or a librarian.

lccc library,05/07/08 


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Barbara Balas
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