Can I use information from websites?
You may use information from internet websites, but beware! Anyone can write a web page. Therefore it is down to you to assess its quality and integrity.
What to look for when evaluating a website (a few examples):
- Scope - What is the purpose of the site - education, advertising, entertainment? Read the "About us" or Frequently Asked Questions section.
- Breadth - What aspects of the subject are covered? Is the resource focused on a narrow area or does it include related topics?
- Depth - What is the level of detail provided about the subject? This may depend on the kind of audience for which the resource has been designed.
- Content - Is the information fact or opinion? Does the site contain original information or simply links?
- Completeness - How comprehensive is the website? Is it well researched, with bibliographies and references? Is there any archival information?
- Sources - Are sources for factual information listed so they can be verified?
- Uniqueness- What advantages does this particular resource have?
- Links - Are the links kept up to date and made to appropriate resources? The proportion of links still working may help indicate how well a site is maintained.
- Writing - Is the information free of grammatical, spelling and other errors?
- Purpose - What is its purpose? Is it clearly stated? Is it objective or biased? Is the level of bias acceptable?
- Authority - What is the authority, expertise or credentials of the author? Who is hosting the site? Check the web address for clues: e.g. .ac.uk is the code for a UK university which is likely to make this a trustworthy site. Government sites can be recognised by .gov - once again a reliable source. Charities, societies, pressure groups often have .org in their address. Although reliable, please remember these sites are likely to be biased towards their cause. Commercial sites are likely to be .co or .com and information on these sites may not be as reliable, so be careful. A ~ sign in a web address usually indicates that it is a personal website, so care may need to be taken in using this material.
- Currency - When was it last revised? Good sites should display a creation and revision date. These give an indication of the site's durability.
- Connectivity - Do pages take a long time to load? Is the site stable over a period of time?