How do you decide what information is accurate and worth using? These guidelines can be applied to print and electronic information; however here, they refer to Web sites. If you are researching a topic that requires current information, a book dating back to 1970 will be outdated for your purposes.
|Authority||What credentials does the author have that make him/her qualified to write on a subject? Who produced the Web site? Is the author affiliated with an institution? Is this Web page authentic or a hoax?|
|Currency||Does the site have a date? When was the last time it was updated? Is the information outdated? Are there dead links?|
|Comprehensiveness||If there is a print version of an article, is the online article the complete version of the print?|
|Validity||Everything is biased to a certain extent. It is important to see just how slanted a bias is. Is there a political agenda? What is the purpose of the site, to advertise or to instruct? Is it someone’s informal opinion?|
|Target Audience||Is it intended for professionals, scholars, students, laypersons, or children? Is the level of material appropriate for your research?|
|References||Are valid references given to back up the research? References provide further avenues for information as well as opportunities to verify the facts.|
These six criteria are easier to verify in print sources than online information. Books and journals have a specific format for recording author, date of publication and references. The same is not always true for information found on the Internet. Anyone can contribute to the online Wikipedia; however, not everyone is qualified.