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. Users should not accept everything that they read just because it’s printed on a web page and, as in any research process, should critically consider the source as they evaluate online information.
Think of the C.O.S.T. (Content, Objectivity, Source, Timeliness):
• 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?