How to Verify if a Source is Credible on the Internet
By Robin Reichert
The Internet is a vast public electronic network of information. Many commercial, academic and government websites provide access to information, services, products, laws and advice. No system of checks and balances are available to assure users of the accuracy of information found on the Internet. Millions of people contribute to information on the Internet, which is constantly changing, added to and deleted. Use the credibility, accuracy, reasonableness and support (CARS) method of verification when relying on information found on the Internet.
Determine the credibility and reliability of the information by identifying the source. Research the name of the writer or the organization to determine if it is a well-known and respected authority on the subject of your research.
Compare the information provided by your source with other reliable sources to verify accuracy. Check facts and data provided in an Internet source with information from trusted sources, such as government agencies and universities. Look for a complete and comprehensive presentation of data and facts.
Read the information objectively to determine if the information is presented in a balanced, reasonable and unbiased manner. Look for possible bias in the information presented and claims or assertions that seem unreasonable. Note any conflict of interest that may have influenced the assertions by the writer.
Look for citations that support the claims and assertions made by the writer. Follow the links provided to verify that the citations in fact support the writer's claims. Look for at least two other credible citations to support the information.
- Always follow-up on citations that the writer provides to ensure that the assertions are supported by other sources.
- Note the designation of a website to help determine credibility. Websites that end in ".com" are commercial and are usually trying to market a product or service. Sites that end in ".org" are usually non-profit organizations. Government agency sites end with ".gov" while ".edu" is used for educational institutions.
- Libraries, universities and professional organizations usually provide reliable information.
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.