Reliability of Information

When people are searching online for information they often simply accept the first few sites brought up on a search made using Google or another search engine,  unfortunately, not all information found online is accurate. Web pages may be written by someone with little or no knowledge of the subject area, they may be designed to encourage you to buy a specific product or they may be biased in favour of someone’s opinions, whether or not these reflect the facts.

Major information sites like Wikipedia are generally accurate when dealing with factual or technical subjects, including Computing topics, but they may be less accurate when dealing with subjects where opinions play an important role, for example, current or historical events or political topics.

You should always evaluate the quality of information found on website using these five criteria:

  • Scope of Coverage: to what extent does the site explore the topic?
  • Authority: does the information come from a source which is known to be reliable?
  • Objectivity: does the site cover a range of views, or does it simply express the author’s bias or opinions?
  • Accuracy: is the information correct? How has this been checked? Can the same information be obtained from other sources?
  • Timeliness: is the information current, or was it published some time ago? When was the website last updated?

You can obtain further information about each of these criteria at:

http://virtualchase.justia.com/quality-criteria-checklist

This site also contains plenty of other useful information about checking the reliability of websites.

Next: The REAL Strategy