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Information Literacy Program

Evaluating Information on the Internet

The Internet offers a vast array of information, but not all of it is equally valuable or reliable. A great resource to use in evaluating Internet resources is the Finding Information on the Internet: Tutorial from UC Berkeley. Below are a few of the areas it highlights.

Authorship (person or organization)

  • Is the author of the page clearly identified? If a person, is his or her occupation, title, funding source indicated?
  • If an organization, is there a link back to its home page? If not, try the ASAE Gateway to Associations Online

Purpose

  • Is the primary purpose marketing , informational, advocacy, news, or personal?
  • Is it a comprehensive resource or does it focus on a narrow range of information?
  • Are the goals of the group or person presenting the material evident?
  • What is the funding source, political or philosophical agenda?

Accuracy/Authority

  • Can factual information be verified through footnotes or bibliographies?
  • Identify the author's conclusions; are they justified from research or experience? (Identify the author's method of obtaining data or conducting research:  personal opinion, experience, library research, questionnaires)
  • Is the methodology outlined appropriate to the topic; does it allow the study to be duplicated for purposes of verification?
  • If a company or organization is sponsoring the page, is a phone number or postal address listed? An email address is not sufficient for verifying the legitimacy of the company.

Timeliness or currency

  • Is it clear when the information was produced? Updated?
  • Are links to other Web pages current?

Recognize and challenge the importance of context

  • Is this source in tune with or in opposition to conventional wisdom, established scholarship, professional practice, government policy, etc.?
  • If you find information that is too good to be true, it probably isn't true.
  • Look for other sources that corroborate; never use information that you cannot verify.

Further information on evaluating Information on the Internet:

 

Before you copy information found on the Internet, remember that information is intellectual property and is protected by the law. Visit The Copyright Website for an explanation of scholarly fair use and the meaning of copyright.

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