All information, whether in print or by byte, needs to be evaluated by readers for authority, appropriateness, and other personal criteria for value. If you find information that is "too good to be true", it probably is. Never use information that you cannot verify. Establishing and learning criteria to filter information you find on the Internet is a good beginning for becoming a critical consumer of information in all forms.
"Cast a cold eye" (as Yeats wrote) on everything you read. Question it. Look for other sources that can authenticate or corroborate what you find. Learn to be skeptical and then learn to trust your instincts.
--John Hopkins University Library "Evaluating Information"
The publishing body also helps evaluate any kind of document you may be reading. Is it self-published or did an organization invest money to print it for the public to read?
Ask the following questions to assess the "publisher":
Currency refers to the timeliness of information. . . . Date of Publication - How important for your issue?
Apply the following criteria to ascertain currency:
Accuracy or verifiability of details is an important part of the evaluation process, especially when you are reading the work of an unfamiliar author presented by an unfamiliar organization, or presented in a non-traditional way.
Criteria for evaluating accuracy include:
Point of view or bias reminds us that information is rarely neutral.
Because data is used in selective ways to form information, it generally represents a point of view.
Every writer wants to prove his point, and will use the data and information that assists him in doing so. When evaluating information found on the Internet, it is important to examine who is providing the "information" you are viewing, and what might be their point of view or bias.
The popularity of the Internet makes it the perfect venue for commercial and sociopolitical publishing.
These areas in particular are open to highly "interpretative" uses of data.
Referral to and/or knowledge of the literature refers to the context in which the author situates his or her work. This reveals what the author knows about his or her discipline and its practices. This allows you to evaluate the author's scholarship or knowledge of trends in the area under discussion. The following criteria serve as a filter for all formats of information: