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In-depth information from U.C. Berkeley about evaluating websites.
The Two Most Important Questions
Whenever you come across information online or off, ask yourself these two important questions:
Who caused this to be published? Knowing the author or at the very least the publisher of a work helps you determine if that work is a credible source since you can then follow up and decide if that author or publisher has any authority or training on the topic you're studying. If there is no author or publisher listed on a web page, check the URL or the parent site to see who hosts the material. If you cannot find the responsible person
or group, you may not want to rely on the work.
Is this content actually relevant to my topic and my audience? Different topics require different kinds of evidence. Is yours one that relies on up-to-date information? If so, was this source published recently enough to be relevant? Is your topic one that draws on public opinion? If so, opinion polls, editorials, and blogs might be useful whereas such sources might not be appropriate for topics or audiences that expect peer reviewed scholarly sources.