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Evaluating Resources & Information


tting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.

Mitchell Kapor


It's important for you to evaluate each resource as you use it.   Ask yourself is this appropriate for my research/assignment needs?    Who is the author?  Can this information be verified?  Are they just trying to sell me something? 

Below is checklist to help you sort the good from the bad and indifferent.   **You should be able to answer at least 3 of these to assess whether the site you are considering is appropriate for academic/scholarly usage

1.  Authority:
    *  Who is the author?
    *   Are the author's occupation, education, or other credentials listed?
    *   If the author is an organization or corporation, is background information about the institution listed?

2.  Accuracy (or compared to what?):
    *   Is the information verifiable?
    *   Are sources documented?
    *   What does this site offer compared to other sources?

3.  Currency:
    *   When was the information created or last updated?  (Hint:  the date should be prominently displayed)
    *   Have the links expired?

4.  Objectivity & Purpose:
    *   Is the information biased?
    *   What appears to be the purpose of the information?
        a.  Inform
        b.  Explain
        c.  Persuade
        d.  Sell a product or service?

5.  Audience:
    *  Who is the intended audience?  Scholars?  Consumers?  School Children?  General Public?

6.  Conclusion:
    *  Given the criteria above, is this site appropriate for your research needs?


Internet resources:  You should be able to assess the web site within a minute or two.  If you have to spend too much time trying to figure out who the author is, this site may not be appropriate  for academic use. 

The World Wide Web is NOT THE FIRST PLACE to look for information -- including journal articles.  It should be used as a secondary resource after you have considered journal articles and books.

When in doubt, always ask for help.  The library staff are more than willing to help you decide if the web site is appropriate, and can also help you find other sources of information.