For a person who does not do research on the internet, credibility may not mean a whole lot. Due to ease of access to the internet, a lot of people use this source to retrieve information. But, when the internet is used for this purpose, it is important to follow certain guidelines. The first thing that comes to most people's minds when they read something from the internet is, "Is this true?" One must learn to make up one's mind by asking exploratory questions about the source being used. For the information to have credibility not only does it entail believing the information but also making sure that one verifies it in many different ways. The guidelines that I use for credibility verification are, that the information should come from an authentic source, the author or source should show evidence of knowledge, be of good quality, not be biased, be up-to-date, have summaries or abstracts, contain citations, be consistent, treat opposing views fairly, and the reader should always have an attitude of skepticism. The first step to take when verifying credibility of a Web site is to use the URL to determine the source of the information. By doing this, one can decide whether the information is coming from an academic or a commercial source. This basically lets one know the authenticity of the source. One way to ascertain this is by looking at the URL extension, if it is .gov, or .edu, then we can at least have some assurance of the particular Web page having credibility. Academic systems enforce meticulous standards of research, reviews, and analytical cross-examinations by other literati in the field. The greater the number of people who have read and agreed with the information, the more reliable the information seems to be. Also if we have an author's name, we should look to see if he or she is affiliated to a reliable organization. The second method would be for the author or source of the information to show some evidence of being knowledgeable, reliable, and truthful (Harris, 1997). Usually if there is any type of obscurity in the information, then this would tend to make it less credible. One way of verifying this would be to find out if the author's qualifications are available. One can also verify any association that the author might have with an educational institution or any other reputable organization. And, one can even, sometimes, find links on the page that will explain who the author is and what is their mission or philosophy. The third method would be to look for the type of presentation or quality of the written paper. Does this information have spelling mistakes or incorrect grammar? Today, with such advanced technology, anyone can publish anything on the Web and there are no Web standards to ensure accuracy of the information. So, it is up to one to decide if, according to the number of spelling or grammatical errors, the website is credible. We should take into consideration that when information is coming from a reliable source, such as an educational organization, it usually has proper grammar and spelling. And finally, it is important for the page to be well designed. The fourth method is to be alert to a biased paper. Most of the information on the internet usually has its own intended audience. One should not only be aware of this intended audience, but also of the biases found. Many users may not know that some search engines "sell" priority in their listing so that the criterion is based on commercial concerns and not necessarily on the quality, reliability, or usefulness of the sites listed. (Burbules, 2001). Information should be impartial and unprejudiced. There should be no conflicts of interest and it should be reasonable. In some cases, one needs to find sources which are biased in different directions to be able to make any type of judgment on it. Information pretending to objectivity but possessing a hidden agenda of persuasion or a...
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