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There is a lot of information on the internet. Not all of it is good information. A careful evaluation of each website is required to ensure the information being presented is credible. Remember that any credible source will provide a few basic points of information: Author, date of last update, and sources.
While Wikipedia should never be used as an actual source when writing research papers or speeches, you may want to check out their entries on your chosen topic. This can give you some basic information and help guide your research in the library's databases.
Who is the author? What are the author's credentials? Does the author have expertise in the area? Is the author associated with a reputable organization?
Is the information balanced? Is it more opinion than fact? Is the page a presentation of facts or designed to sway opinion? Is a product, service, or idea being sold?
When was the page last updated? Are any links dead? Is the information consistent with your knowledge in the subject?
Is information documented with references? Are the facts given supported with evidence? If statistics are provided, what is the source? Is the page free of spelling mistakes or other obvious mistakes?
This chart will help you walk through the evaluation. It helps you look for certain things for each letter, tells you why you should evaluate, and what you should look for when evaluating.
Step 1: Check the URL and domain extensions
Step 2: Perform the ABCD evaluation
Step 3: After the ABCD evaluation is performed, if the website is found to be credible, decide if the website is relevant to your topic and if you should use it.
One of the first things to do is look at the website's URL domain ending. Domains .edu, .gov, and .org are generally thought to be the best for credible information. Just remember that .org is a domain that is no longer used by only non-profit organizations and .edu webpages can be created by students from a college or university who have no real expertise in the field they are discussing. Make sure you evaluate the website further than the domain endings.
.com commercial business or for-profit organizations
.gov United States government agencies
.edu educational institutions
.mil United States military organizations
.org non-profit organizations
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