The internet is filled with information. But can you trust it?
Nancy Jean Vyhmeister, in Quality Research Papers for Students of Religion and Theology (Zondervan, 2008) gives the following helpful list for evaluation of internet resources.
- What is the purpose of this website? Entertainment? Information? Research?
- Who sponsors the site? A credible organization, such as a university? A seller/marketer? A professional society? An advocacy group? An individual?
- When was the material written?
- Who is the author? A professional? A student? Just somebody interested in the topic?
- What are the author’s qualifications, either academic or professional? Author or amateur?
- Is this material available elsewhere, either on the web or in a printed source?
- What is the tone of the article? “I know it all”? “You are stupid if you do not agree with me?” “This is an observation I have made.” Does this sound like someone searching for the truth or simply pushing an idea?
- What company does this piece keep? (hyperlinks, sources cited [journals, recognized scholars, no one])
- How do you think your professors will rate this information?
- Never stop asking questions.
While the internet is a wild place, filled with all types of information, careful evaluation is necessary. Remember, the fact that someone can say something does not mean it is true. Free blog sites are available to anyone who wants one. And bad information sometimes comes with it.
The internet can be incredibly useful. It also can be incredibly wrong.
Careful evaluation will help us to know which it is for any given site.