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RH1002: Communication Skills for Health Professionals Guide: Reliable Websites

Evaluating Websites

How do you know if the information you find on the internet is accurate and reliable?

Ask yourself:

  • who wrote it?
  • why was it written?
  • when was it written?
  • who was it written for?

Interrogate the authors of the page:

"Who are you, and what do you want?"

If you don't like the answers, don't use that page - find your information elsewhere.

Website addresses

Looking at the domain of the website can give you a good idea of its focus. For example, a commercial website is likely to be focused on selling a product, while a website from an educational institution is likely to be focused on providing information.

Different countries follow different patterns for domain codes.  Australia follows the American pattern while New Zealand follows the British pattern.  America is the only country without a country domain.

Common domains  
.edu / .ac educational institutions
.gov / .govt government departments
.org organisations
.com / .co commercial body, company, personal websites
.net networks, personal websites
Country domains  
.au Australia
.uk United Kingdom
.ca Canada
.nz New Zealand

 

More domain codes (from Wikipedia)

Website content: author

The author / owner is generally found in the website's header

  • Who wrote the content? Is there a link to their home page or curriculum vitae?
  • What are their qualifications?
  • Are they an expert in their field?

Website content: currency

The date the page was created or updated is usually found in the footer. Out of date web pages may provide inaccurate information

  • Are there dates on the site?
  • When was the website last revised?
  • Is the information up to date?
  • Are the links active and reflective of current information?

Website content: purpose and coverage

Is the purpose of the website stated? Is it scholarly or informational?

  • What topics are covered?
  • How in-depth is the material coverage?
  • Who is the target audience? Is the level appropriate for your purpose?
  • Is the information reliable? Is it controversial, misleading etc?
  • Is there any bias on the page e.g. racial, political etc?
  • Is there a commercial sponsor who is using the page to promote their product?
  • Which country / region does the information cover?

Credits

The information on this page has been adapted, with permission, from the University of Wollongong Library's guide to Finding Information, created by Beth Peisley.

We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.Acknowledgement of Country