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Educational Articles

Academics for Higher Education - Internet Content Evaluation

Internet Content Evaluation

It's true that the Internet has become a great source of information for many people around the world. You can easily find information and entertainment with an appropriate search online. Yet, some of the information may not be accurate. There are many authoritative articles on various topics but there are also many articles with the wrong information, written by people who don't know much about the subject.
In this guide, you will learn how to evaluate Internet content.

A Few Tips to Get You Started

If you can find trustworthy Internet content, it will help you in a great way and the opposite is true when you find inferior Internet content. How do you tell the difference? Here are 10 simple tips to help you along:

  • Check the expertise or qualifications of the writer on the topic. This point will be explained in greater detail in the following section.
  • Pay attention to the source of the content. Find out if the content is original or taken, quoted or republished from another source. However, it can be quite difficult to identify content which is imported from other sites via RSS feed because the content may be blended with other content without the proper labels.
  • Make sure that the independent verification of content is possible from other sources. In cases where the identity or the expertise of the author cannot be verified, this is especially vital.
  • Take some time to evaluate if the content's depth and level meets your requirements.
  • Just like you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, you shouldn't judge Internet content by its appearance. To be safe, you should not accept any content just because it's attractive and presented in a professional way. On the other hand, you will definitely have to be on alert if you come across content which is presented in a shoddy manner.
  • Look for the dates of the latest articles to be edited or posted. This will let you know if the website is maintained regularly.
  • For the relevant topics, check to see if the information is up-to-date.
  • If there are links in the article, check to see if they are appropriate and relevant to the content. The links should also be in working order.
  • There should be contact information on the website.
  • The URL or the domain name should be related to the content of the website. For instance, educational and research content should be found in websites with .edu and non-profit organizations should have .org. However, it must be noted that the domain is not to be taken as a definite indicator of the content quality. There are many authors who post their work in blogs or other platforms with .com in the web addresses.

Determining the Expertise of the Author

On the Internet, it can be hard to determine quality of the information just on the basis of the author's identity. There are instances where the author uses a pen name or nickname. If the author's name is displayed, you can check on the person's expertise with these tips.

  • Use Google Scholar or a library database to find other works by the same author.
  • Check to see if other writers have cited any of the author's work in their own writings. This information can be obtained from Google Scholar.
  • Another good tip is to search the author and the author's works in Google. In the search results, you may discover that the author has taken part in a conference or some other event.
  • If there is an "About" page in the website, look for some information about the author and verify the same with some other reliable sources.
  • If you see the author being associated with some institution or an organization, go to the website of the institution and check on the status of the author.

Additional Resources

  • Evaluating Websites: Here, you will find some tools to help you evaluate websites.
  • Criteria: Outlines some of the criteria for evaluation of Internet information.
  • Critical Evaluation: In this guide, you will learn how to look at scope, audience, timeliness, and other indicators.
  • Propaganda & Misinformation: A look at information and counterfeit information.
  • Checklist: Use this checklist to check on reliability of web information.
  • Another Checklist: Discusses some indicators like authority, scope, format, and presentation of the information.
  • Judging Information: The article offers some ways to judge information on the Internet.
  • ipl2: The website provides trustworthy information.
  • Evaluation Criteria: A list of criteria to help you evaluate Internet sources.
  • Find Good Websites Fast: A great resource from the American Library Association on finding good websites for research.
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