ELEMENTS OF INTERNET SOURCES
One of the first things to check a Web document for are its three main elements: head, body and footer:
Within each of these pieces you should be able to determine the following vital elements for evaluating information:
* Author or contact person - usually located in the footer
* Link to sponsoring institution - usually located either in header or footer
* Institution - usually located in either header or footer
* Date of creation or revision - usually located in footer
* Intended audience - determined by examining the body
* Purpose of the information, i.e. does it inform, explain, or persuade - determined by examining the body
If you are unable to locate all of these elements on an individual Web page, try manipulating the address to dig deeper into the Web site. For example, if no sponsoring institution or author information was found at the URL:
Then, try opening the URL minus the "riot.html" filename, e.g.:
Once you identify all the elements, you can evaluate the document using the guideline listed below.
INTERNET SOURCE EVALUATION CHECKLIST
- Who is the author of the piece?
- Is the author the original creator of the information?
- Does he or she list his or her occupation, years of experience, position, or education?
- With this information or lack of it, do you feel this person is qualified to write on the given topic?
LOCAL INSTITUTION OR HOME PAGE
- What institution (company, government, university, etc.) or Internet provider supports this information?
- If it is a commercial Internet provider, does the author appear to have any affiliation with a larger institution?
- If it is an institution, is it a national institution?
- Does the institution appear to filter the information appearing under its name?
- Does the author's affiliation with this particular institution appear to bias the information?
- When was the information created or last updated?
- What appears to be the purpose for this information? (explain)
- Inform, e.g. new information, current events, etc.
- Explain, e.g. describe a process, teach, etc.
- Persuade, e.g. change your mind, convince you to buy, etc.
Given all the information you determined from above, is this piece of information appropriate for your topic? Would you have any reservations about referring someone else to this page to use the information you have found?