Learn to employ a series of techniques and questions to determine if a website is to be trusted or not.
• Click on headline
• Check the source
• What's their angle?
• Is there an "about" page?
• Is there inflammatory language?
• Is the site overrun with ads?
• Is there an author? Do you know them?
• Are there supporting sources?
• Check the date
• Are there citations?
From ALA. (2021). “Media Literacy for Adults: Misinformation and Disinformation.” https://programminglibrarian.org/sites/default/files/media_literacy_for_adults_-_misinformation_and_disinformation_webinar_resources.pdf
When using a website for research, it’s important to consider several factors to make sure you’re getting accurate, objective, and current information. Here are some questions to ask yourself as your evaluate websites:
1. Who provided the information on the website and are they qualified to write on that particular topic? Is there a way to contact the author(s)?
2. What organization, institution, or company is responsible for the website? What kind of domain does the website use? Website URLs that end in .edu or .gov are often more reliable and objective than commercial websites ending in .com.
3. What opinions are expressed on the website? Does the website provide objective, factual information or does it seem more like an advertisement for a product or a platform for someone to express a personal opinion?
4. When was the website created? Is there an indication that the information has been kept up-to-date? Do the links still work or do they mostly lead to defunct websites?
5. Are there citations or clearly identified reliable sources for the information presented?
(Source: “Teaching Undergrads Web Evaluation: A Guide for Library Instruction,” Jim Kapoun, reference and instruction librarian at Southwest State University.)