Unlike most books and periodicals that are found in libraries, much of the information located through Web searches is unfiltered. In other words, the contents of many web sites have not been authenticated, edited and peer reviewed by experts. This means that it is up to you, as a responsible researcher, to assess and evaluate the information for yourself. Use the following suggestions and questions to apply quality control to your Web search results.
- Who publishes this web page?
- Why are they an authority on this subject?
The expertise of the author should be clearly indicated in a statement or on a credentials page
Look for “about” or “who we are” buttons or links to lead you to information about producers or sponsors
Is the producer appropriate for the content? Look for .edu, .gov .com or .org url extensions
- If information appears to have been taken from another source is it fully credited?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Will this material meet your needs?
- Is the site comprehensive or devoted to only one aspect of a topic?
- What time period is covered?
- What geographic area is covered?
- Be skeptical!
- Be thorough!
- Don’t take the information as presented at face value
- How objective is the coverage – if there is evidence of bias, is it clearly evident?
- Is the presenter obviously or subtly selling something – is there a corporate sponsor?
- Be prepared to use other information sources – both electronic and print to verify and complement web site information