Guide to Internet Resources







You can find a wealth of information on the Internet, but how can you tell if the sites are comprehensive, authoritative, and scholarly? It's often difficult to tell the keepsakes from the junk. Here are some questions you should ask yourself when examining and evaluating content on web pages:



What does the URL look like? The URL is the 3-letter suffix attached to the web address:


.COM - A commercial site. Usually this is owned and maintained by a company but sometimes non-profit or government organizations also buy this type of URL, for example: the United States Postal Service (usps.com) or the U.S. Army's recruitment site (GoArmy.com).
.EDU - A site that can only be owned and maintained by a four-year college, university, or other higher education institution (ex. Harvard.edu).
.ORG - A site that can be owned or maintained by anyone. Organizations anywhere in the world can buy this type of Internet space but it is most often used by non-profit and charitable groups. Political parties also use this type of Internet space (ex. Democrats.org and RNC.org). It is important to remember that anyone can own one of these webpages: companies, non-profits or individuals.
.GOV - A site owned and maintained by the U.S. government and/or one of its agencies (ex. Whitehouse.gov). Only government agencies may use .gov spaces. However, some other semi-private organizations with an important role in the government receive .gov space, like the Federal Reserve System, which is the country's main banking system. Some local and state governments also use this Internet space.

Other Questions


Is there an about section? What can you learn from reading it?
Who supports this website? A university? A foundation? A non-profit group? An individual?
Is there advertising on the page? What kind?
How is the information presented and structured? Does it seem logical to you?
Are there any clear biases? Does the author have a personal agenda or is s/he committed to providing accurate information?

Evaluating Websites


Here are five questions you should ask to determine whether you can rely on a site; you should be able to answer "YES" to all five before you list a site among your sources.

Accuracy: Does your page list the author and institution that published the page and does it provide a way of contacting him/her?
Authority: Does your page list the author's credentials and does it carry a preferred domain (.edu, .gov, .org, or .net)?
Objectivity: Does your page provide accurate information with limited advertising? Is the site objective in presenting the information?
Currency: Is the page and its information current? Does someone update it regularly (this information should be on the page.) Do the links work or are they outdated?
Coverage: Can you view the information properly, without being limited by fees, browser technology or software requirements?

Evaluation Tools and Resources on the Internet