Evaluating Internet Resources for Reliability
The amount of information available to us through the Internet is staggering. There is so much information that it can be difficult to figure out what is reliable and what is not. But it is very important to insure that what you are reading is indeed accurate.
Here are some things to consider as you verify that information retrieved from the Internet is reliable and accurate.
Knowing about the author of a document can tell you a lot about the document’s reliability. Here are some things to consider about the author of a document:
- What is the author’s job and credentials?
- Is the author connected to a well-known institution?
- Does the author benefit financially by promoting a particular view?
- Has the author published anything else?
- What experience does the author have?
- Does the author show any bias in the document?
Not all of these questions will be pertinent every time you are evaluating resources, but asking at least one or two of these questions will help you decide if what you are reading is accurate and reliable.
Finding out more about the publisher of a site will also help you determine whether or not it’s a site you should trust. Here are a few questions to consider about the publisher of a site.
- Who is accountable for the site hosting your resource?
- What institution publishes this document?
- Is the publisher a university, a not-for-profit group, a political group, a government agency, or a personal blog?
- Are the publisher’s qualifications listed?
From time to time, an organization will publish something with no author listed. Verify that you can rely on the publisher before believing what is written.
The information from a site or document is the most important thing to consider. If the author and publisher seem reliable, also make sure that the information they have given is accurate. Some questions to think about when evaluating the information:
- When was the site or document created? Also check for a “last revised” date.
- If the site or document has links, are they working links or dead links?
- Are there spelling or grammar errors?
- Has the site received any awards or high ratings from reputable groups?
- Are sources cited correctly?
- Is the information detailed?
- If the site includes links, do they supplement the site’s theme?
After evaluating the author, publisher, and information, you should be confident about the accuracy and reliability of the site or document. If you still aren’t sure, get a second opinion.
If several sites or documents give the same information, the odds of it being accurate are better. In the end, trust your judgment. If something seems inaccurate or questionable, it probably is.