Information on practically any subject can be found on the Internet, however, anyone conducting research on the Internet should make it a habit to question the accuracy of any information they find. Furthermore, if a person is serious about finding facts on a particular subject, it's necessary for them to evaluate the reliability of the information found on the website. There are several important questions to consider when looking at the information offered by a website.
What is the origin of the information?
When checking the legitimacy of information found on a website it is helpful to consider the source of the information. For instance, who is the writer? Does the writer have credibility? Can the information be confirmed or backed-up? It is important to determine whether the writer is offering facts or just their opinions.
Is the purpose of the web page clearly defined?
Some web pages are set up simply to provide helpful information to visitors while other web pages are created for the purpose of selling a product. A web page that advertises a product may offer only information that will be helpful in persuading a visitor to buy the product. Determining the purpose of a web page is very helpful in evaluating the information found there.
Does the page offer accurate information?
A visitor to a web page is well advised to check the legitimacy of its information elsewhere. Checking up on the reliability of the writer who is offering the facts can be useful in the process. The person may find that the writer is a well-known, reputable one. Confirming the information of the source is a significant part of research.
Is the site relevant to the research topic?
It is helpful for a person conducting research to be sure the page they are viewing deals with the specific subject matter they are interested in. Many websites offer a lot of general material that may contain only tidbits of pertinent information. It is time saving for a person to narrow a search from the beginning. Sometimes when a website tries to cover too many subjects the accuracy of the material can suffer.
Can the information be checked?
Factual information can generally be confirmed in another place. Furthermore, a person should seriously question the accuracy of information that they cannot confirm anywhere else. Checking an article's citations can be helpful in confirming information. Also, looking for some of the writer's other work is useful in determining their reputation for factual writing.
Is the information biased in any way?
Always consider who is writing the information found on a website and why they are writing it. If a writer starts out with an ulterior motive of any kind then the creditability of the piece must be brought into question. For instance, is the writer trying to help the designers of the web page sell a product? If there are no influences at work in regards to the writing, then iits unbiased.
Additional Resources for Evaluating the Web
It is wise to question the accuracy of information found on the Internet. A person who is prudent in their online research has a greater chance of ending up with trustworthy material.
Evaluating Information Found on the Internet