ION | Illinois Online Network

Applying Evaluative Tests: Source

Anyone can publish on the Web. The author or source of information should show some evidence of being knowledgeable, reliable, and truthful. Some questions you should ask are:

Is the name of the author/producer easily identifiable?
The name of the author may be at the top or bottom of the Web page. Sometimes there will be a link to more information about the author, but keep in mind that none of it may be true!

Does the author provide contact information for questions and comments?
One sign of a reputable source is if the author is willing to communicate with the audience. Comments or facts stated by anonymous sources should be taken with a grain of salt.

Who is the sponsor of the site?
The URL (uniform resource locator) or address of the site gives other clues about the author. Looking at the URL may help the reader know whether the content is from an educational institution, an individual, a government organization or a business.

NAME in URL may mean a personal home page with no official sanction
The site may contain very valuable information for your research, however, it may also just be someone’s non-professional, inexperienced point of view on the subject. Check the author’s credentials before relying on information of this sort.

Someone willing to put his or her name, credentials, affiliation, and contact address on an article is more likely to be reliable than someone making an anonymous posting to the Web.