Evaluating Internet Resources

Evaluating Internet Resources

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The Internet has become a popular source for retrieving information on practically any subject. This information can generally be retrieved in a matter of seconds. With the popularity of the internet as a research tool it’s important that the information received is reliable and accurate. In general, when one uses a search engine to perform a search on the internet, the quantity of information returned is astronomical. “In a world of information overload, it is often extremely difficult to get a grip on the correctness, completeness and the legitimacy of the information and material available in the internet.” (Prins).

If the user does not thoroughly research the information they receive from certain web sites they could receive misleading and invalid information. It is extremely important that the information received is reliable and accurate. For example, someone could be researching a medical condition on the internet and they believe that all the information they have received is true. The pickup on a site that recommends a treatment regiment that promises to eliminate the problem. They realize that their systems have worsened and the recommended treatment is not working. This incorrect information that the user received from the internet can be devastating for the user or even led to death.

Anyone can post anything on the internet. “Unlike most traditional information media (books, magazines, organizational documents), no one has to approve the contents before is made public.” (Prins). Everyone who uses the internet need to be mindful, that because the information is on the web, doesn’t make it true. Many of us forget this fact because at one time most things that were in print were true. But today as it relates to the internet that is not a true statement.

All the information that is retrieved should be verified for its accuracy. To verify the information retrieved is valid there are a few things the user can do. The user should verify the author. Here are a few ideas to verify the author and check objectivity; is the author knowledgeable; is the credentials and organizational affiliations listed; has the author written other material relating to the subject; is the author stating a fact or is it their opinion; is the information one sided or is more than one view point shared; is the information trying to sway the reader; is the information based on fact.

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By reviewing this information it will help to determine if the author is authentic and is the information prejudiced.

There are other criteria that can help determine if an internet site is valid. The user needs to make sure the information authentic, credible and timely. Is the information cited; is the information from a recognized association; can you cross reference the information. Is the information that’s being provided current or outdated? “Credibility of information revolves around its relevance for a given time frame. Old information, or information that is not current, also lessens website credibility.” (http://e-turnall.com). Following these additional steps will also help determine if the information received is valid.

Next the user should look at usability and design. Can you access the links; look for misspelled words and poor grammar; are the pages neat and easy to read; is it user friendly. (Prins). If the user noticed any of these problems or issues within the website it could mean that the information the user is reviewing may not be valid. In most cases legitimate websites make certain that contents on the page has correct spelling and that proper grammar is used. In most sites when a website is included in the document the user is able to click form the page and go directly to the site. If this doesn’t happen and it’s not a computer problem it maybe a red flag that this site may not be providing factual information.

There are other ways to identify a bad site. Is the name of the author present on the page? The user needs to think twice about the validity of the data if the author didn’t use their name or credentials. If the author was certain that the information they are providing is accurate and true there should not be an issue for them to include their name. However, if the author chooses to remain anonymous that may raise a question of why the secrecy. What is the author trying to hide?

Another way to identify a bad site is if over claims, statistics without an identified source and conflict of interest. (Prins). Some non-factual sites will use over claims as a bases for its information. For example they may say that over 15 million people are married every day, this is not a true fact but it is an over claim of the number of people married on a daily bases. Generally on over claims valid statistics are not provided. If valid statistics are provided the source given should be verifiable. Moreover, the user should ask them self the question, is there a conflict of interest for the person providing the information?

One of the easiest ways to review and check to see if information is received on the internet is from a reliable source is to use the CARS checklist. The acronym for cars is C-Credibility, A-Accuracy, R-Reasonableness, S-Support. (Prins). The user should ask them self if the information credible. For example, my friends’ husband believes that the world will end in 2012. When he is asked what bases led him to that conclusion he states that his pastor told him.

However, when questioned further he is unable to substantiate a bases for his claim or where his pastor came up with the date. For me his statement has no credibility because he is unable to provide any evidence to support his claim. His statement failed the accuracy test because he is unable to provide any facts or supporting detail to back up his claim. My friends’ husband statement also failed the reasonable test. His claim is purely based on the information received from his pastor who is biased and not objective, he is unable to see any ones viewpoint but his own. The last checklist is support. In the situation detailed above my friends husband is unable to provide a source or substantiate where his pastor receive his information, so I find that he is not able to meet the support requirements. Although the web can be a great resource we have to make sure to use the tools described above to make certain that the information we receive is accurate, reliable, factual and current.

Works Cited


J. E. J. Prins, "Fighting untrustworthy Internet content: In search of regulatory scenarios" Web. 30 Mar. 2015
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