Evaluating Internet Sources: Choose your sources with care!

Before you surf the internet in search of that web site that looks a good source of information for your assignment you will need to understand what makes a good quality resource on the internet. Publishers have procedures for checking books and journals, before they are published. Publishers of web sites don’t necessarily have such a system, and therefore choosing your sources from the internet needs to be done carefully.

To help you do this here are some guidelines that will help you evaluate the sources available. The criteria that make up our guidelines can be summarised as follows:

Authority, Currency, Accuracy, Balance, Navigation




  1. Who are the authors? - a corporate body or a group of individuals?
  2. Do the authors provide any biographical or corporate information?
  3. Have the authors published elsewhere? Check for links to papers or for a bibliography
  4. Who acts as the host or publisher? Look out for a copyright statement and contact details.
  5. Is there a sponsorship statement from an organisation? Check for background details about the aims of the organisation.
  6. What are the letters used at the end of the web address?

A university or college could be .ac
For a commercial organisation the abbreviation is .com
Government agencies of the United States are .gov
Internet service providers are .net
For voluntary or non-profit organisations .org
Finally, professions are designated with .pro



  1. How up to date is the information? check to find US or rest of the world expression of dates
  2. Is the whole site updated or just parts of it?
  3. Does the information reflect the date of changes? Do the factual details of news stories reflect the details of initial and subsequent reporting?


  1. Spelling: is the spelling and grammar consistent?
  2. Are there any errors in the information?
  3. Can the information be verified by checking other publications?



  1. Does the web site provide a balanced viewpoint based on facts, and not opinions alone?
  2. Is a product or a service being promoted? Does this distort the balance of the information?
  3. Is there a cultural, gender, religious or political bias to the information?



  1. Does the web site have a search engine?
  2. Does the web site enable easy browsing of headings?
  3. Are links provided to plug-in screen readers?

No single site will satisfy all the criteria above but if your web site satisfies many of these it will be worth including in your list of references.