Skip to main content
Roosevelt University in Chicago, Schaumburg and Online - Logo

Journalism and Communications: Evaluate Sources

Evaluate Resources

Flickr: Magnify by A Bear Names Bryan

Evaluate what you find


Evaluate the information you have found on your topic. Think critically and consider the following:

Authority

  • Who is the author? Is the page signed?
  • Is the author an expert? What are his/her credentials?
  • Is there a link to information about the author or sponsor of the information?

Accuracy

  • Is the information reliable and error-free?
  • Does someone verify the information?

Remember: anyone can publish anything on the web

Objectivity

  • Is there evidence of bias?
  • What are the goals of the author/sponsor?
  • Is the information designed to sway your opinion? Does the page contain advertising?

Currency

  • Is the page dated? When was it last updated?
  • How current are the links?

Coverage

  • Is the information in-depth? How complete is the information?
  • Does the page provide information not found elsewhere?
  • What topics are covered?
  • Is the information free, or is there a fee to obtain it?

Remember: Web coverage is often different from print coverage.

Evaluating Websites

Evaluate what you find

The Online Resources that you find through the Roosevelt University Web site (www.roosevelt.edu/library) are different from your typical Internet sources. These resources are subscription based and require your authentication as a Roosevelt student. These resources have been selected and reviewed by the librarians and faculty at RU for their reliability, comprehensiveness, and usefulness. Be aware that many free Internet sources have not undergone any kind of review process. Anyone can publish anything on the web!  Internet users must be able to separate the good from the bad. By using the following tips, you should be able to find the best sources available on the web.

Look at the URL or Web address. Does it sound professional? Does it have a catchy or humorous title? Be careful of sites whose URL sounds too unprofessional.  Look at these elements to evaluate web sources.

Domain:  Who or what is sponsoring the Web site?  Take a look at the table below to explore the differences in web domains.

.com – a commercial site. Be sure to examine closely, its goal is to sell you something.

.gov – United States Government sponsored web site. The information may not always be objective, but all government documents and publications are freely available online.

Examples:  www.supremecourtus.gov or www.census.gov

.edu – sponsored by a college or university, these can be especially helpful. However, you should be cautious of personal sites of students or faculty, usually containing a ~ or % in the URL, these sites may simply reflect the opinion of the individual.

University sponsored site: www.roosevelt.edu/library
 

.org – sponsored by a non-profit organization. These can provide a wealth of information about an organization as well as some hot topic issues. Be wary of any kind of bias the organization may have. Check the mission statement or the “About us” link from the web site for more information.

Good Example: www.thekingcenter.org
Bad Example: www.martinlutherking.org

 

If you want to read more, visit these sites that ask in depth questions about accuracy and evaluation when conducting research online.