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Evaluating Internet Information

Every source of information you use (books, magazines, newspapers, Internet sites, etc.) can and should be evaluated before you use it. You need to make sure that the information you quote in a paper, in a speech or in every-day discussion is accurate.

When using the Internet as a source of information, some of the key elements to consider are:

Site Analysis

  • When was the site created and/or last updated?

  • Why was this site created? Is someone trying to sell you something? Is the author trying to inform you of something?

  • Is the information presented on the site biased (presents one and only one particular point-of-view) or is it objective (presents all sides of the issue fairly)? Is someone trying to persuade you to take a particular stand on a issue?

  • Sources of information are created or written, both for information and in many cases, to shape people's opinions about an issue or topic.

  • Internet sources come from wide varieties of sources and authors, including corporate entities, groups, societies, interest groups, and individuals. As a result of this, the content of a particular site will reflect the views of the source, ranging from definitive to false. Identify the source of the site. Check for a 'Contact Us' or for a contact e-mail. This will enable you to e-mail the responsible party with questions, comments, or for more information.

  • When looking for websites, select ones whose address (or URL, Universal Resource Locator) ends with the following:

    • .gov -- identifies a government website (e.g.

    • .edu -- identifies an educational website (e.g.

    • .org -- identifies a non-profit organization or related website (e.g.

    • .com (commercial) and .net (short for network) are commercial sites and may provide biased information or provide only one particular point-of-view on a given topic.


  • Check for accuracy. Websites are not normally reviewed or refereed (reviewed by an outside expert in order to ensure accuracy)
  • The source of the information should be clearly stated. You should expect documentation or the writer should tell you where they got the information from.
  • Check for comprehensiveness: does the content cover a specific aspect of the topic or does it strive to be comprehensive?
  • Check for hyperlinks. Hyperlinks should be relevant and appropriate. Make sure the links are not broken and are kept up to date. If you click on a link and repeatedly get an error page, then the site is not a reliable source of information and should not be used in your research.

Style and Functionality

  • The site should be well organized, have an appropriate writing style, be easy to navigate, and contain a search capability if there is a large amount of content.
  • The author should be using correct grammar and spelling.

Try this checklist for more information on how to evaluate a website: 

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