Checking Reliability of Information

The Internet is a great place for researching information. As great a resource as it can be, remember it is also a public forum. Anyone with the knowledge can create a website and make a claim or an assertion. If you find an article that provides relevant information for your research topic, you should take care to investigate the source to make sure it is valid and reliable, it might not be true or accurate.

It can be difficult to work out if a source is true by just reading the information, however there are several ways to investigate your source. To be absolutely sure that information is reliable, you should stay away from information that doesn’t list an author or comes from a valid company website. While the information you find may be true, it is more difficult to validate information if you cannot verify such information.

Check the URL

If you want to ensure the reliability of the information, check the website URL. If the information is linked to an organisation or company. Most educational websites end in either or .edu. Educational websites should be reliable sources of information, that said, you should be aware of political bias.

Government websites end in .gov or and would most likely a reliable government web site. Government sites are usually good sources for statistics and objective reports.

Think about using online journals and magazines. A reputable journal or magazine should contain a bibliography for every article. The list of sources within that bibliography should be pretty extensive, and it should include scholarly, non-Internet sources.

Check for statistics and data within the article to back up the claims made by the author. Does the writer provide evidence to back up his statements?

Using news sources, could be a trusted way of gathering information. Pretty much every television and print news source has a web site. To some extent, you can rely on the most trusted news sources, but you should not rely on them exclusively. After all, network and cable news stations are involved in entertainment. Think of them as a stepping stone to more reliable sources.

Now try this quiz

Next: Use E-Mail to Communicate Information