To help determine if you are looking at credible, quality information, whether it be online or in a book or magazine, consider the FIVE W's WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and WHY.
If you can't find the answers to these questions then it may be best to look for another source.
CURRENCY: the timeliness of the information.
- When was the information published or posted?
- Has the information been revised or updated?
- Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
- Are the links functional?
RELEVANCE: the importance of the information for your needs.
- Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is the information at an appropriate level (not too basic or advanced for your needs)?
- Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the best one to use?
- Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?
AUTHORITY: the source of the information.
- Who is the author/source/publisher?
- Are the author's credentials given?
- Is the author qualified to write on this topic?
- Is there contact information, address, or email?
- Does the URL reveal anything about the source or author? (.com .edu .gov .org)
ACCURACY: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content.
- Where does the information come from?
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Has the information been reviewed?
- Can you verify any of the information in another source or by your own knowledge?
- Does the language or tone seem biased?
- Are there spelling, grammatical or typographical errors?
PURPOSE: the reason the information exists.
- What is the purpose of the information? to inform? to teach? to sell? to persuade? What is the Domain?
- Does the author make his/her intentions or purpose clear?
- Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
- Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
- Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?