Library Research Skills Tutorial About the tutorial
Using Resources

Evaluating

How authoritative is the information?

To ascertain if the information you have found on the web is authoritative you should consider the following questions:

  • Who has produced the information? Is it a commercial site? Are you aware of any bias?
  • Examine the url, look at the two letter codes.
    If the site is country specific it will have a code that denotes this, .uk for example, specifies the UK. A list of the country codes is available. The information on the site may have more relevance to that particular country.
    If the site is a government site (based in the UK) it should have .gov in the url.
    If the site is an academic site (based in the UK) it will have .ac in the url. If in doubt, try cutting back the url to get to the home page of whoever produces it or hosts it
  • Are the producers of the information aware of their area of research? Are there links to other pieces of research or sites of interest?
  • Is the information only an extract of a wider piece of research?
  • Use of technical language assumes knowledge of the subject area and can indicate the audience the information is aimed at.
  • Typographical or grammatical errors on the page, dead links and a lack of a feedback facility can indicate a lack of accuracy in the content and a lack of maintenance of the site.
  • There may be a counter to show how often the site has been visited. This may indicate popularity not necessarily quality.
  • Has the site been linked to by other quality web sites? This page shows you how to check this by using a search engine such as Google.
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