Although it is important to evaluate all your sources, it is especially crucial for information found on the Internet, where there is often no fact-checking or editorial control. Examine your sources carefully using the following criteria:
- As far as you can tell, is the information presented free of errors and omissions?
- Are there footnotes? This would suggest that the information can be traced.
- What are the author's credentials?
- Does he or she have expertise on the subject being discussed?
- For websites, check the "About Us" page to see if the organization has credentials.
- Documents on .gov, .edu, or .org domains tend to have more credibility than documents on .com or .net domains.
- Does the source only present one side of an argument, or use inflammatory language?
- For websites, check the "About Us" page to see if the organization or author may have an agenda that would influence how they present the facts.
- Does the source seem up-to-date enough for the topic and for the needs of your paper?
- Does the time frame covered meet your research needs?
- For websites, check for a "last updated" date.
- Is the author's treatment of the material broad or narrow?
- Does the author provide sufficient detail?
- Are footnotes and references to additional reading provided?