Much of the information on the internet is not regulated or vetted. Despite this fact, there are numerous useful and reliable sources online. Therefore, in order to utilize these, it is especially important for researchers to evaluate a web source before using it to support their ideas or inform their opinions. When using web sources, be sure to examine the:
- Currency: is the date of publication of the sources time sensitive? Does it inform the content?
- Relevancy: Is the information in the source related to my topic or thesis? Does it address my research needs?
- Authority: Who is the person or group writing or editing the content of my source? Are they qualified to write or speak on the subject?
- Accuracy: Is the content published true? Are other reliable sources documenting the same information? What is the original source/primary source?
- Purpose: Why is this information being published (i.e. to inform/entertain/provoke/promote)? Is there any inherent bias apparent? Does the publisher have a history of such behavior?
Although not every single criteria may be applicable to every source, you should evaluate the degree to which the source is reliable or not