Make sure the website you use is CRAAP
*Currency. If your page is current and updated regularly (as stated on the page) and the links (if any) are also up-to-date, and . . .
*Relevance. If your page adds new knowledge to your topic and meets the requirements of your assignment and . . .
*Accuracy. If your page is grammatically correct, cites its sources, has no known false statements and . . .
*Authority. If your page lists the author credentials and its domain is preferred (.edu, .gov, .org, or .net), and . . .
*Purpose. If your page provides accurate information with limited advertising and it is objective in presenting the information, and . . .
You may have a Web page that could be of value to your research!
But what does that all mean, you ask?
1) Who made the website and what is the website for? (Accuracy)
Anyone can make a website, but there are some clues to look for to determine if a site is VALID and RELIABLE. The site usually has an identifiable author with contact information. The site will have some continuity of content and appearance. Pages within the site will link back to its home page. The site has been proofread - that is to say it's free of grammatical and spelling errors. You should also be able to tell why a website exists, what its purpose is, and what information it is trying to convey. Disjointed or unclear websites often give you unclear and disjointed information!
2) Is the author qualified to write about the subject? (Authority)
The author should list credentials, and the website should be hosted on a domain you trust. Review it like you would watch a cheesy infomercial - is the site trying to sell you a piece of junk?
3) Does the author express opinions or facts? (Purpose)
Websites that have a bias will often present only one side of an issue. Check to see if you can determine the goals of the website - is it all about advertising, or is it the ramblings of one person with no authority or accuracy?
4) Are there a lot of ads? (Purpose)
Ads don't always signal an unreliable site, but be sure to look at them carefully. Lots of ads might mean the site has a bias.
5) When was it last updated? (Currency)
Websites that are updated frequently are usually more reliable than sites which have been neglected for years.
6) Is it easy to find the information you need? (Authority)
Does the site require you to pay fees, or upload software? Are the links within the site usable, or are there lots of dead links?
7) Is the information appropriate to your needs? (Relevance)
If a website is too basic or too technical, then you won't be able to get good information from it. Instead look for sites that meet all the other criteria *and* add something new to what you know about your topic!
Still not sure what to do? Here's another resource... and you can always visit your friendly neighborhood librarian!