Mass Communication / Journalism Concentration: Using the Internet for Research
Evaluating Internet Resources
Here are some criteria to check when evaluating Internet resources:
- Authority - Who is the author or what is the source of the information on the web site? What are the author's credentials? Is the author an authority on the subject? Is information about the author/business/organization/ institution readily available? Is a contact person's address provided?
- Accuracy - Information on the site is not automatically accurate because it is on the Internet! Is the information presented coherently? Is it peer-reviewed and/or edited? If edited, is the editor's name listed? Is the site clearly labeled and organized?
- Objectivity - Is there a bias in the presentation of information on the site, or is information presented in an an objective, balanced manner? Does the author or sponsoring organization have anything to gain financially by providing this information? Are the author and/or sponsoring organization presenting the site primarily to enhance their reputation? Is the business that owns the site trying to sell products and services?
- Coverage - Is the material on the site covered adequately? How does it compare with other sites on the same subject? Is the site appropriate for the intended audience? Is it well-written?
- Currency - How current is the site? Does it indicate when it was last updated? How well is the site maintained?
- Style and Functionality - Is the site laid out clearly and logically? Is it easy to navigate the site and to locate information? If links to other sites are provided, do they work? Do they add any value to the site or provide any valuable information?
Tips for Evaluating Websites
Check the URL (or address) of the site:
.com A commercial site focused on selling a product or service.
.net Usually a personal site. This is not the place to go for impartial, objective, factual information since it would reflect the author’s own personal bias.
.edu An educational institution’s website. You can generally find accurate, credible, objective information on these sites.
.org A non-profit organization’s site. These are generally more objective and can be a valuable source of information.
.gov A U.S. government site. Many contain a wealth of useful information, including statistics, reports, etc.