Probably one of the most popular sources for information today is the Internet. If we type in a few key words, we have instant access to almost anything on a given topic. But as accessible as it is we need to use it wisely as we research for information.
When determining whether a web site is reliable, there are four questions we need to ask.
- What is the purpose of the site? Some sites are for-profit and their intent is to convince the viewer to buy their product. Other sites offer a service and their intent is to inform the viewer to make the best decisions.
- Is the content relevant and clearly written? Content should be well organized and clearly written. It should be relatively free from spelling and grammar errors. It also should be up-to-date and accurate.
- Who are the writers of the website? Writers should be qualified to write on the subjects they are presenting. You should be able to access information about the writers and determine what their education and experience is in their field.
- Is the content biased, or is it objective? Some writers purposely slate their articles to persuade readers to their point of view. There is a place for persuasive writing, but generally speaking, academic writers should present their findings as objectively as they can allowing readers to form their own conclusions.
Just a word about Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an open source for information on just about any subject. It is easy to access and many students use Wikipedia for their projects. However, there is a downside. The way the program is set up anyone can edit and add to almost any page. Because of this there is no way to check the accuracy or reliability of the information. If you choose to use Wikipedias, make sure to compare the information to reliable sources.