Credible v. Non-Credible Websites
What does "credible" mean?
1. capable of being believed; believable.
2. worthy of belief or confidence; trustworthy. (dictionary.com)
Credible websites are trusted sites usually funded by colleges/universities, scientific or historical organizations, or government agencies.
Consider the following six criteria in order to decide if the website you're looking at is credible.
"1. Author - Information on the internet with a listed author is one indication of a credible site. The fact that the author is willing to stand behind the information presented (and in some cases, include his or her contact information) is a good indication that the information is reliable.
2. Date - The date of any research information is important, including information found on the Internet. By including a date, the website allows readers to make decisions about whether that information is recent enough for their purposes.
3. Sources - Credible websites, like books and scholarly articles, should cite the source of the information presented.
4. Domain - Some domains such as .com, .org, and .net can be purchased and used by any individual. However, the domain .edu is reserved for colleges and universities, while .gov denotes a government website. These two are usually credible sources for information (though occasionally a university will assign a .edu address to each of its students for personal use, in which case use caution when citing). Be careful with the domain .org, because .org is usually used by non-profit organizations which may have an agenda of persuasion rather than education.
5. Site Design - This can be very subjective, but a well-designed site can be an indication of more reliable information. Good design helps make information more easily accessible.
6. Writing Style - Poor spelling and grammar are an indication that the site may not be credible. In an effort to make the information presented easy to understand, credible sites watch writing style closely." (criteria copied from https://uknowit.uwgb.edu/page.php?id=30276)
Be aware that some reliable sites do not meet all of this criteria and some unreliable sites do. If you aren't certain if the site is credible, compare the information presented to a different trusted source to see if it is accurate. Depending on the type of research you're doing, the kind of website you use may vary. Sometimes .com and .net websites will be appropriate sources for your research if you need specific information about a particular company or non-profit organization (this information may be located on their .com or .net webpages).
Since anyone can publish information on the Internet, it is important to carefully scrutinize online sources before you use them for academic purposes. There is a lot of inaccurate, biased, and outdated information online. Non-credible websites may have a poor design, broken links, and grammar and spelling errors. They may lack author, date and/or source information. They will not be associated with credible institutions, organizations, or entities. They may contain unbelievable or incorrect information. The webpages may also contain advertisements. However, some non-credible websites may appear reliable, so it is very important to evaluate the credibility of websites very carefully.
1. Is author information available? Does the author have credentials related to what he/she is writing about? Is the author associated with an organization or institution? Is there a link to the organization/institution? What is the author's purpose?
2. Is the date of publication available? Is it recent? Are there broken links or old news on the page?
3. Does the website list its sources? Are the sources credible?
4. What is the domain? (.com, .org, .net, .edu, .gov) Are there ads on the site?
5. Is the site designed well?
6. Is the site well written? Does it have grammar and spelling mistakes?
7. Using your common sense, does the information seem biased or incorrect? What is the purpose of the website?
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