If you do find yourself resorting to a Google search it’s vital that you evaluate any website you wish to take information from. This evaluation should be based on a number of criteria:
- Are sources acknowledged with footnotes or links to other web resources?
- If there are links to other sources, do they seem relevant and has the author evaluated them and provided a summary/critique?
- Are there any spelling or grammatical mistakes?
- Is it clear who authored the site? Is there an ‘About us’ or ‘Contacts’ section?
- Does the author list their qualifications? Are they qualified to write this information?
- What does the URL reveal? Does it include a personal name? Is the site hosted on a commercial server (e.g. ‘aol.com’ or ‘geocities.com’)? What domain does the URL come from (e.g. ‘.ac’ or ‘.edu’ for educational establishments)?
- Does the website include a ‘date last updated’ statement? If so, has it been updated recently? If not, does the site include dated information on a time-sensitive topic?
- Are any of the links broken?
- Does the information seem obviously biased?
- Is the site really an advertisement?
If you ask yourself the above questions, you should ensure that the information is of a high enough quality to use in your academic work.