Locating information, whether in traditional print format or in electronic format, is only the first step in doing research. The next step is to evaluate the quality and the usefulness of what you find.
When using electronic documents found on the World Wide Web, the evaluation process is more important than ever since anyone who has an account on a computer linked to the Internet can put up a home page or a World Wide Web document. They don't have to be intelligent or knowledgeable, scholarly or authoritative, and in many cases, the "information" they put on these pages does not have to pass any kind of scrutiny or editing process by their Internet service provider.
Many institutional or organizational Web sites include statements about the type and source of information which is provided on their home pages, as well as the purpose of the organization itself. If this information is not offered, be especially careful about evaluating the data you find there.
The World Wide Web contains huge networks of information that vary in quality and credibility. Many commercial websites don't provide author or publisher credentials, or don't include enough information to verify the content or currency of the site. While many websites provide reliable consumer information, many other sites contain untrustworthy, incorrect or misleading information. The burden is on you, the reader, to develop the skills necessary to critically evaluate the quality and trustworthiness of the information you find on the web.
Consider the source. Apply the CAARP Test. Use the checklist to evaluate your sources.
For additional help with evaluating sources, see Module 5 of the Pot of Gold tutorial.