How to Search the Web
Understanding what the Internet is and how it works can enhance your online ... read more »
Finding information on the Web is like being a police detective: Your information is only as good as your sources. Learn how to evaluate Web site credibility with the links below.
- If you're using information for a lighthearted e-mail, the source isn't that important. If you're conducting research for a professional report, you had better be sure your information is legitimate. Checking sources may sound arduous, but there are a few crucial questions that can help:
Who is the author(s)? What are their credentials? Look at the domain (the last part of the Web address, for example: .com, .org or .edu). This generally tells you what kind of site you're using: .ac and .edu sites are regulated educational sites; .com and .biz sites are for commercial purposes; and .gov sites are U.S. government sites. Other Web address endings can indicate the country of origin of the site. Some domains are sponsored and therefore heavily regulated (.jobs, .museum and .travel are a few examples), while others are not sponsored. Learn more about top-level domains (TLDs).
Who is making the information available? How is the site being funded? Are they trying to sell you something? Does the site appear to have any social or political biases? The “About Us” section of a site is a good place to start but it shouldn’t be the end of your research. One way to look for additional company or author information is to try the name in a search engine. For an author, try searching the name along with key subject words to check for any additional work or credentials.
When was the information first published? Has it been updated recently? Many Web pages indicate when they were created and last revised. Check the bottom of the page for a copyright date or look for a date near the byline of an article. Without a date, the timeliness of the information is difficult to evaluate.
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