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Evaluating Internet Resources: Home

Summary

The internet is a great way to create, access and share information.  The problem with this is anyone can create and share content on the internet.  If you plan on using information found on a website or social media, you must evaluate that resource.  This is particularly true if you plan to cite this information in a paper or if you plan on passing this information along to others.

SIFT

STOP

  • investigate the information and the source of the information before reading or sharing.

Investigate the Source

  • What do you know or what can you find out about the source of this information?
  • Do a google search for the author or institution that is creating this media.

Find better coverage

  • Can you find a credible source that is reporting this information?
  • How do the two sources compare?

Trace claims, quotes, and media back to the original context

  • Locate the original source of this information.
  • Are the claims, quotes and media being represented accurately?

 

Points of View

Do you understand all sides of an argument?  There are several databases that provide overviews of controversial or debatable topics.

Investigate the Source

What do you know/ what can you find out about the author or publisher?

  • What are the author's credentials?
  • Is the author qualified to write about this topic?
  • What can you find out about this publisher?
  • Can you find this media outlet's Code of Ethics?
  • What is the url? (.com, .edu, .gov, .org, etc.)
  • Is this source known to be bias or lean in a particular direction?

Why was this resource created?

  • Is it opinion, satire, news, advertisement?
  • Was this created to entertain, educate, convince?
  • Who is the intended audience?

Do you or the publisher hold bias on the subject?

  • Is this source known to hold strong beliefs on any particular subjects?
  • Could your own beliefs impact your evaluation of this source?

The following websites can help you investigate a particular news outlet.

Unnamed or Anonymous Sources

How do you evaluate the trustworthiness of a news source if it the journalist's source has requested to remain anonymous?

We can't verify the facts that have been published so we need to evaluate the author and news organization.

  • Does this author regularly cite anonymous sources?
  • Does this author have connections to "higher ups?"
  • Can you find the news organization's code of ethics?  What does it say about sources?
  • Is the topic a sensitive or confidential subject that requires the source to remain anonymous?

Find better coverage

Perform an internet search of the keywords or argument of the source you are examining:

  • Are sources that you trust reporting on this?
  • Can you find an expert in the field discussing this?

Can you verify this information elsewhere? The following links can help you to verify facts or claims.

Understanding Authority

Trace back to the original context

Trace the information back to the original source:

  • Does the source link to the original claim?
  • Can you perform a search and locate the original source?

When you find the source:

  • Is the version you're evaluating accurately representing the information?
  • Was the information taken out of context?
  • Was important information removed?

What about pictures?  A Google Reverse image search can help you identify the source of an image or other locations where the image is used.

Ebooks