Feist, K. (2016, February 2). Evaluating Internet Sources. Retrieved from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Undergraduate Library: www.library.illinois.edu/ugl/howdoi/webeval.html

Kent State University. (n.d.). CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING WEB RESOURCES. Retrieved from Kent State University: http://www.library.kent.edu/criteria-evaluating-web-resources
Search engines like Google and Yahoo have revolutionized the way we locate and retrieve information. With just a click of a mouse, we are connected to a wealth of information from millions of websites. When you are a student, you may be tempted to use Google and information that you find on websites for all your class assignments. But while there are good sources of information on the web, the very nature of how information is published on the web raises many concerns. In fact, unlike journal articles and books, almost anyone can publish information on the web, and there is no formal agency that evaluates information before it is published. As such, it is important that you evaluate each website to ensure that it is credible.

This guide was developed to help students understand how they can go about evaluating the information they come across on the web. The guide has been broken down into sections based on the major criteria that are important to consider when determining the credibility of a web resource. 
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The first element that is important to consider when evaluating the credibility of a website is to consider who the author or organization behind the information is, and their credentials or expertise.  There are a number of questions to consider: 

1. Who is the author or organization behind this information, and do they provide their credentials?  

Knowing who is behind the information on a website may help you understand the purpose of a website (see next tab). If you are unable to locate information about the author and their expertise on the topic or the works they have done in the past, this is usually a red flag.

2. What domain name does the website have? Is it a  .com (commercial), .gov (government), .org (organization), .edu (educational institution), or something else ? 

Sometimes the domain name can provide clues about authority. For example, .gov domain names can only be registered by government agencies or institutions, and these types of websites tend to be reliable sources of information. On the other hand, .com, .net, and .org domain names can be registered by anyone.
What to Consider
Examining the purpose and objectivity of a website is crucial in determining its credibility. When looking at a source, consider the following: 
  1. Is the purpose of the website clear? Is it there to sell a product, provide factual information, or promote a certain viewpoint ?

    Consider the organization behind the website. If the website is sponsored or owned by an organization, consider how this might influence the information.
  2. Is the information biased or geared towards a certain viewpoint?

    While using a source that promotes a certain view or position is acceptable, it is still important that the source meets the other criteria, such as providing a list of references for factual information.  
What to Consider
The accuracy and reliability of information on a website are crucial elements to consider when determining whether a particular website is credible. Consider the following:
  1. Does the page or website in question provide a list of references to support factual claims? 

    If you are looking at a web page that provides factual information, a list of sources where that information is coming from should be available. 
  2. Can you verify the claims or information in another source? 

    One way to assess the reliability of the information you find on a website is to see if you can verify the information somewhere else, such as in a book, an article, or another type of resource.

It is important to consider how current the information on a website is when determining the credibility of a source. 
Another important aspect to consider when looking at a website is how current the information is. There are several questions that you should consider asking: 

1.  How current is the information?

Consider the discipline or subject area you are conducting research in. For example, medical and scientific information changes frequently. 

2. Are all the links functioning correctly? When was the website last updated?

Consider whether all the links on the website lead to active web pages. Sometimes this can be a good clue as to whether the information is kept up to date and the source itself is well maintained.