Not all Internet sites are reliable or accurate. Some sites have been created by people who have no accountability, some by people who have a clear bias, even some by very young students. On the web, anyone can publish information. Therefore, it is important to think critically about the web sites that you locate in your research. Listed below are some questions to ask as you evaluate the site and a reminder to be a responsible user of the Internet.
Who is the author? Is there an email address to contact the author (not the webmaster)? Why do you trust him or her? Example: The author of this site is a 5th grade class, and so I should use it with caution, if at all. Or, this Civil War site is by a UCLA professor of History, and it provides her email address, so I can trust it.
Based on your knowledge, does the information seem correct? Example: Parts of this site are similar to what I already know about Mexico from my textbook, so I think I can trust the information. Or, I don’t know anything about my topic yet so I am not sure, Or, This site is different from what I learned before, so I should compare it with other sources before I use it.
Does the site present an opinion, point of view, bias? Or is it strictly factual and objective? Is an opinion clearly stated? What is it? Example: this site is an anti-smoking, anti-tobacco site. In the “about us” section it says that the purpose of the site is to teach teenagers not to smoke. I understand the opinion and it is fine for my research.
Does this information help to answer my question? Is it in-depth? Is it too hard, too easy, or just right?
Is the website current? When was the information created? Was it revised? Are these dates meaningful in terms of subject matter? Example: This site is from 2010 and is about Global Warming, so it is up to date. Or, This site is from 1999 and is about the solar system, so I think it may be too old.
Does the site have a Works Cited or Bibliography? If they are links, do they still work?
CARRDS adpated from:
Kasman. Power Tools: 125+ Essential Forms and Presentations for Your School
Library Information Program. Chicago: ALA, 2004. Print.
Special Note: Internet Ethics
Have you cited all information that you got from the site?
Did you give credit to the authors or organizations who published the site?
Did you request permission to link someone else's site to your own?
page updated 12/20/2010