When conducting research, researchers use a variety of information sources both in print, as well as, online sources. Whereas print sources may be considered legitimate, internet or web sources are likely to be unreliable. For that reason, there is a need for an evaluation of web sources to ensure that researchers provide legitimate information during their studies. There are four main ways in which web sources can be evaluated including authority, accuracy, currency, and objectivity. Authority refers to the information provided regarding the author of the information such as their qualifications, and contact information among other things.
Authoritative web sources are those that provide information concerning the person involved in developing the website. Evaluating the authority is important for verification purposes especially in relation to the identification of the author and his qualification in writing on the topic. Accuracy, on the other hand, refers to the ability of the information provided in the web source to be verified in terms of truth. An accurate site provides verifiable information about the topic or subject matter. This can be achieved through the provision of reputable sources regarding this information, as well as, the provision of links for these sources to prove the accuracy of the information provided in the website. Inaccurate web sources more often than not provide information that is wrong, as well as, information from illegitimate sources. Additionally, such websites do not provide the link to the sources of information and are anonymous in nature. Evaluation of the accuracy of a web source is, therefore, important to ensure that the information found in the website is true. Currency is the third method of web source evaluation, and it involves the provision of time-sensitive information such as the date when the web was written, when the information was provided, as well as, the date of revision. Current websites are those that provide all this, and in addition to that, they present proper links to the sources of their information. Inaccurate web sources, on the other hand, are those that do not provide the required dates for the information.
Additionally, such web sources may provide stale information lacking the links for the information provided. The last step of web source evaluation is objectivity, and this refers to the presentation of information with a minimal form of bias or partiality. Objectivity allows web sources to present fair, balanced, and reasonable information. Web sources that have met the criteria of objectivity provide information that is not biased, and instead, it is comprehensive and exhaustive from both sides of view. Contrastingly, web sources that lack objectivity tend to be biased and present information that is one-sided. Additionally, such web sources tend to pass out their biased information as true. They convince readers and researchers that the information provided by the site is comprehensive hence misleading researchers on the subject matter. Evaluation of website objectivity is necessary because it prevents the possibility of acquiring information that is biased and untrue. An evaluation of this prevents the possibility of researchers providing information that is wrong and prejudiced.
Evaluation of web source is essential for the research process so as to ensure that the information acquired from these sources is authentic, accurate, up to date and objective researchers should, therefore, ensure they carefully evaluate their web sources to prevent the possibility of presenting wrong information.
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