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Biology Research Guide

Evaluating Internet Sources

Not all information is equally valuable. Retrieved information, whether from a print or non-print sources, must be carefully examined to determine its usefulness and quality. As the World Wide Web becomes more popular as a source of information for assignments and research papers, it is important to be able to select and critically evaluate the sites you visit.

Relevance/Appropriateness

  1. Is the format/medium of the information useful for your assignment?
  2. If you need primary sources, is this a primary source?
  3. Is the information comprehensive enough for your needs?
  4. Does the information express a particular point of view?
  5. Is the information directed toward a general (vs. a specialized) audience?

Currency

  1. Is there an indication of when the information was created/published?
  2. Is the information regularly updated?
  3. Is the information still valid for your topic?

Authority/Credibility

  1. Is there information on the author/producer of the source?
  2. Is there information on author/producer’s credentials?
  3. Does the information come from an “authoritative” source?
  4. Is there contact information (e.g. email address for author/producer)?

Coverage

  1. Does the information source cover the topic extensively?
  2. Is the information abridged (e.g. table of contents/summary only)?
  3. Is full-text information available only to subscribers?

Accuracy

  1. Is the information presented as fact (vs. opinion)?
  2. If the information is presented as fact, can it be assessed for accuracy (i.e. are there footnotes or references)?
  3. Does the information appear to be biased?

Design

  1. Is the page layout visually pleasing?
  2. Are the buttons or icons easy to understand?
  3. Are the hot links provided to additional information?
  4. Do the images enhance the information?
  5. Is the load/response time acceptable?