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Answered By: Reference Desk
Last Updated: Jul 21, 2014     Views: 4861

Information gathered on the Internet, without the scrutiny of a trustworthy organization, may not be as reliable, comprehensive, or permanent as research requires. However this does not mean you should discount the valuable sources that may be found on the Web.

When you conduct a search for information online, keep a critical eye on the kinds of sites you are retrieving. First determine the type of organization that developed the website. There are a limited number of such domains including:
    .gov - Government
    .edu – Universities or Educational Institutions
    .org - Organizations (nonprofit)
    .com - Commercial Business
    .net – Personal Webpage
The domains of .gov and .edu are generally less subjective and are more likely to contain refereed information. The sites .org and .net will often have a bias associated with them and typically .com sites are marketing sites trying to sell a product.

Other questions you can ask yourself are: 
Do I know and trust the site publisher?
Why should I believe the site author, what are their credentials?
Is this a professional looking web site in terms of graphics, file formats, active links etc.?
Is the site selling, educating, buying or advertising and thus creating a bias? Dates & How Current is the Information?
Based on what I know, how believable is the information?

For further information, consult the CRAAP test attached below.