How can I tell if a website is Reliable?
1. Who authored (wrote) the site?
Locate the author(s) name and write it down. Is it a person or a corporation? Credible websites will always list the full name of the author and/or corporation publishing the information. Does the website offer any information or credentials about the author? What evidence is given that the author has expertise in this subject area? Be suspicious is no information is given about the author.
2. Who published the site?
Look at the domain name of the website. Who is publishing the information? Is it a reputable organization? You need to record the full website address (URL) that will directly link to the website in which you found the information. Examine the domain suffix:
Educational websites end in .edu
Commercial websites end in .com
Military websites end in .mil
Government websites end in .gov
Nonprofit organization websites end in .org
3. What is the main purpose of the site?
Is the purpose of the website to inform, persuade, or market something for sale? Could the author be biased? Is there advertising on the website? What other websites does the webpage link to?
4. Who is the intended audience for the information?
5. What is the quality of information provided on the website?
What date was the information originally pubished? When was the information updated? Check for dates at the top and bottom of the webpage. For research citations, you need to record the date the information was published AND the date in which you accessed the information online. Examine quality of information presented on the webpage. Does the webpage look professional? Is the information well written? Did the author cite the sources of his/her information?
6. How does it all add up?
Does the information on the website meet your needs? Not all websites on your research topic will have information that is related to your specific area of interest.