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The internet is completely unregulated and uncensored, with no constraints on the information that can be posted. On the internet, each individual can be his/her own publisher, and many are. As in any research process, users should critically consider the source as they evaluate online information. Use the C.O.S.T. (Content, Objectivity, Source, Timeliness) method and questions to help evaluate:
• Is it comprehensive?
• Are sources for factual information listed so they can be verified?
• Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and other typographical errors?
• Is the author’s conclusion based on sound and reasoned argument? Supported by evidence?
• What is the purpose of the site? To inform? To sell something? To persuade? To entertain?
• Beware of advertising that influences content – is there a conflict of interest?
• Is there evidence of bias?
• Who is the author/editor of the site? What are their credentials? Are these credentials verifiable?
• Read the site documentation (list of sources, bibliography, etc.)
• Can the legitimacy of the sponsoring individual, company or organization be verified?
• Check registered domain owners with WHOIS: http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jhtml
• How current is it?
• Are there dates on the page to indicate: When the page was written? When the page was first placed on the Web? When the page was last revised?