Evaluating web-based sources is a difficult and complex process. There is an abundance of information on the Web but some of it may be inaccurate, biased or misleading. Determining what sites and sources may be most useful for your needs can be complicated and confusing.
Academic research relies on the use of accurate and well-documented sources of information. Generally, books and journal articles are subjected to a thorough review process before publication. Print items in a library are much easier to evaluate because they have already been reviewed twice: first, by editors and reviewers who verify that the information is accurate, and then by librarians who decide whether the item is appropriate for the collection.
Unlike most books and journals, websites are self-published and are not necessarily held to that same level of scrutiny. As a result, you will need to examine materials obtained from these sites with extra care. Remember, it is your responsibility to judge the quality and the validity of the information you are retrieving.
The checklist on the left should help you to assess the reliability of the resources you have found. When researching a topic on the Web, consider these guidelines, but keep in mind that there are many criteria to consider in choosing valid sources for your research.
If you are still uncertain about how well the material you’ve retrieved meets these criteria, then you should speak to a librarian, or consider using alternate sources of information.
Be patient, it usually takes a lot of practice to successfully evaluate Web resources.