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Evaluating Internet Sources

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1 Evaluating Internet Sources
A brief lesson on how to assess the quality and worth of an Internet source prepared by Tera McFarland

2 Anyone can print anything on the Internet
Internet sources must be evaluated to assure their authenticity and relevance because Web sites and pages do not go through the intensive editing processes that traditional print and visual resources do. Therefore, YOU, the user, must learn to assess the validity of the sources you use in your research. Don’t be fooled into believing that just because it’s on the Internet, it’s true. In essence, don’t believe everything that you read!

3 Criteria for Evaluating Internet Sources
Authority Currency Accuracy Objectivity Usability Appropriateness

4 Authority Authority refers to the reliability and credibility of the source. What are the author’s qualifications? Is the author or source affiliated with a reputable organization? Is there a contact person listed? Is there evidence of quality control?

5 Examine the Domain One good way to assess the credibility of an authority or web site is to examine the URL edu = college or university gov = government agency or organization org = non-profit organization mil = military organization com = commercial organization info = general information site net = network provider int = intergovernmental organization

6 Be wary ... A tilde ~ after the domain type usually indicates a personal web page and not an official part of that organization’s site Look for personal data about the author or organization Look for contact information, an address, webmaster, editor, etc.

7 Currency … or timeliness
Very often, Internet sources offer a real advantage in that they are often even more current than traditional print sources. The information can be updated constantly. However, you must be aware that the dates on an Internet site have various meanings.

8 Examine the date... Date of information - usually indicates when the material was originally written Date of publication - usually indicates when the material first appeared on the Web Date of last revision or update - usually indicates the latest revision And check the links to make sure that they are up-do-date!!!

9 Accuracy Accuracy refers to the reliability of the information. To examine the quality of the content on the site, ask the following questions: Is the information ? Dependable? Error-free? Documented? Accurate? Comprehensive? Understandable? ? ? ? ? ?

10 Objectivity This refers to purpose of the site, evidence of bias or prejudice, and facts vs. opinion. What is the purpose of the site? To persuade, inform, explain, sell, promote, or ridicule? Can you tell facts from opinions? Is there evidence of bias? Is only one side of an issue presented? Is any information purposely omitted? Is there a hidden message?

11 Usability Usability refers to user friendliness and how easily the site allows you to retrieve information. Consider the following criteria: User friendliness- Is it easy to find, read, and use the information? Organization- Is it logically and clearly arranged? Table of Contents or Index- Is it labeled clearly and is it complete? Design- Is it clean, clear, and uncluttered? Consistency- Are navigation buttons the same throughout? Links- Are they clear, accurate, workable, valuable?

12 Appropriateness Advocacy Webpages Business/Marketing Webpages
Various types of webpages exist. Examine the purpose of the site to help you to determine the appropriateness for use in your research. Five types are listed below. (from Jan Alexander and Marsha Ann Tate of Widenour University) Advocacy Webpages Business/Marketing Webpages Informational Webpages News Webpages Personal Webpages

13 Remember that the Internet is not the only source of information.
Finally... Remember that the Internet is not the only source of information. It is very useful for some topics and almost useless for others. Use a variety of sources, both Internet and traditional sources Always question the validity of the information that you find. Remember the important evaluation criteria to consider.

14 Remember the Criteria for Evaluation
Authority Currency Accuracy Objectivity Usability Appropriateness

15 And you’ll be a... Happier, Smarter, More Successful Researcher!!

16 Credits O’Neill, Ann B. “Trash or Treasure? How to Evaluate Internet Resources.” 16 Nov Apr < Special thanks to the students and instructors in Mansfield University’s School Library and Information Technology program

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