When you look for information, chances are you’re going to find a lot. How do you tell the good information from the bad? Resources featured on an academic library’s Web site have often been edited and checked by scholarly organizations and publishers, then evaluated by librarians for inclusion in the library’s collection. The information you find through those resources will generally be trustworthy. But what about information found on the World Wide Web? Anyone can create a Web site, but there are no guarantees that it was checked for accuracy before it was published or posted.
It is important to keep in mind that just because information is published in a book, journal, magazine, or Web site, does not mean it is true. You must take the time to evaluate the accuracy of the information. Good researchers need to develop critical thinking skills in evaluating information, whether it comes from library materials or Web sources.
When evaluating your resources, use the questions listed below. They will help you determine whether the information you find is worth your time. If you can't easily answer these questions by browsing the resource, you may want to re-think using it.
Authority: The source of the information
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs
Purpose: The reason the information exists
Currency: The timeliness of the information
Design: The organization and ease of use