When searching for information, look for the following: Accuracy- is the information correct? Authority- who is behind the information? Coverage- is the information in-depth? Does it contain facts and citations? Currency- is the information up to date? Objectivity- is the information biased?
www.who/what.where A website’s address (or URL) and Internet domain can tell you a lot about its authority and credibility, so that’s a good place to begin.
.edu These websites are from institutions of higher education, like colleges and universities.
.edu Faculty and students can publish personal web pages through their institutional domain. Though.edu sites are not automatically credible but they are often very reliable.
.gov These websites come from the U.S. government or state governments and are highly regulated.
.gov These sites include: statistical reports departmental and agency resources legislative and legal documents information about state and local governments
.org Organizational websites are advocacy web sites, such as a not-for-profit organization. They are not strictly regulated.
.org They can represent any kind of social, environmental, religious, medical, charitable, political, or educational group.
.com Commercial sites offer information, products, and services to purchase.
.com This domain is one of the largest on the Web and can include search engines, such as Google, and newspaper companies like the New York Times. www.google.com www.nytimes.com
Let’s search information on Martin Luther King Jr.
Since we want to find the exact name Martin Luther King Jr., we can put those words in quotation marks. This shortcut works for any commonly used phrase, name, or title.
Remember- all your search results will include the keywords you typed and, therefore, they may all seem important.
Before you select a site, take a closer look at the URL to see where the information is coming from and what type of material you can expect to find there. thekingcenter.org or wikipedia.org?
The first site in the results is the site that is visited the most. It does not mean that it’s the most reliable.
Here, the site listed is Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit or contribute to.
Things to consider about Wikipedia Wikipedia can be a great place to get a general overview There are often links to other credible resources. Wikipedia can be edited or changed several times a day. This does not make the site very reliable. There is no author or editor listed in Wikipedia articles. So, information from Wikipedia has to be verified by another reliable source to ensure the information is both objective and credible.
This site claims to contain historical and academic information about Dr. Martin Luther King. www.martinlutherking.org
There is NO author listed or any information about the sponsoring organization, so we will have to explore the site for other clues as to who is behind the information on this site.
This article contains NO author or date, and has incomplete citations. Uh oh! There is also a TYPO on the page which indicates inaccurate content.
Let’s try to find additional publication information at the bottom of the main page.
Based on the content and apparent authority, martinlutherking.org is an example of an organizational website which is a misleading authority and is NOT reliable or credible. What does “WHITE PRIDE” mean? Who is DAVID DUKE ?
Let’s look at an example of an educational site. Based on the URL, we can tell that this one is associated with Stanford University.
First, look for an author or authors listed on the main page.
This site has both contact information as well as a staff directory so we can see who is behind the information. In addition to the fact this site is based at Stanford University, we now have information about the authority and credentials of the people who contribute to the site.
You can often find additional publication and copyright information at the bottom of the home or main page of the website. We’ve checked the website’s authority. Now let’s look for dates to indicate the currency.
This site contains both primary and secondary information. Why is this important? Now that we’ve verified the authority and currency, let’s explore the content. There are links to recordings of King’s speeches, autobiography, and writings as well as secondary scholarship written by staff of the research institute.
HOORAY! Based on the academic authority, the currency, the scope of the information, and the overall contents of the site, we can tell this is a reliable and credible resource. WELL DONE!