Evaluating Information on the Internet

The World Wide Web is a composite collection of content created and hosted on the internet by millions of organizations and individuals. In order to effectively evaluate the information, consider the following criteria:

Authorship –

Currency –

  • Is the information provided timely? This is particularly important in areas of science, technology, health, and politics.
  • Is publication date or “last updated” date included with the information?
  • If the information is dated or historical, does the document refer to the source and year, e.g. “Based on 1990 U.S. Census data”?

Objectivity –

  • Does the author or web page sponsor have a bias?
  • Is more than one viewpoint expressed on the topic?
  • Does the author or publishing body have a particular agenda?

Coverage –

  • Is the information freely available?
  • Is the site complete or under construction?
  • Does the information have a print equivalent?

Accuracy/Verifiability –

  • Does the information include references to experts in the field or rely on other sources?
  • Does the information include a bibliography?
  • Was an explanation offered on how the data was gathered and interpreted?

Please ask if you need help in evaluating a particular internet resource – journalism@libraries.cul.columbia.edu or IM the Columbia Librarians!