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How can I tell if a website is credible?
It can be challenging to determine whether a website you’re using is credible, but here are a few things to look for:
There are six ways you can tell if your website is credible.
- Author – Information on the
internet with a listed author is one indication of a credible site. The fact
that the author is willing to stand behind the information presented (and in
some cases, include his or her contact information) is a good indication that
the information is reliable.
- Date – The date of any research
information is important, including information found on the Internet. By
including a date, the website allows readers to make decisions about whether
that information is recent enough for their purposes.
- Sources – Credible websites,
like books and scholarly articles, should cite the source of the information
- Domain – Some domains such as
.com, .org, and .net can be purchased and used by any individual. However, the
domain .edu is reserved for colleges and universities, while .gov denotes a
government website. These two are usually credible sources for information
(though occasionally a university will assign a .edu address to each of its
students for personal use, in which case use caution when citing). Be careful
with the domain .org, because .org is usually used by non-profit organizations
which may have an agenda of persuasion rather than education.
- Site Design – This can be very
subjective, but a well-designed site can be an indication of more reliable
information. Good design helps make information more easily accessible.
- Writing Style – Poor spelling
and grammar are an indication that the site may not be credible. In an effort to
make the information presented easy to understand, credible sites watch writing
Of course, there may be some
reliable websites that do not include all these qualities. If you are unsure
whether the site you’re using is credible, verify the information you find there
with another source you know to be reliable, such as an encyclopedia or a book
on the subject. The kind of websites you use for research can also depend on the
topic you are investigating. In some cases it may be appropriate to use
information from a company or non-profit organization’s website, such as when
writing an industry or company overview.