Not all information is good, valid information. Evaluation means that you look carefully at your information sources to determine whether the source is reliable and appropriate for your information need. You should always evaluate any information source you use.
There are seven key criteria to consider when evaluating your sources:
Authority: the credentials of the author(s) and to the publisher of the information.
Currency: date of publication and the time period covered by the information.
Accuracy: the overall reliability and correctness of the information.
Scope: the completeness of the coverage.
Objectivity: the point of view taken in the material.
Documentation: whether the material cites the sources of the information that is presented.
Presentation: how the material is organized and supplemented.
Is the source popular or scholarly? Which will better fulfill your information need?
Is the source primary or secondary? Which will better fulfill your information need?
The domain is the main part of the address; for example, the domain of Randolph-Macon College is www.rmc.edu. The last three letters, or domain suffix, will help you determine the authority and objectivity of a website.
These are some of the most common domain suffixes:
.com Commercial site, available to anyone.
.edu Educational institutions, regulated by Educause and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
.gov Federal government site.
.info Informative site, available to anyone.
.int Site of an international organization, regulated by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.
.mil Military site, regulated by the U.S. Department of Defense.
.net Network or commercial site, available to anyone.
.org Organizational site, available to anyone.
Countries also have their own 2-letter codes, such as .au for Australia.
For additional information about evaluating internet sources, see Critical Evaluation of Resources on the Internet (University of Alberta Libraries).