Just last year, the number of websites worldwide reached 1.8 billion. Everyone in the world who has access to internet connection can now create a website, and people seem to be grasping the opportunity every day. As a result, we have the most immense access to information the world has ever seen. However, this also drastically changed the ways we use to access or gather relevant and credible data – forever.
With the freedom to publish almost anything, we can’t believe half of the things we read online. The debate over whether the internet is trustworthy or not has existed since the very beginning. Even so, the Internet remains the biggest source of information, which means that we can’t really ignore it.
So, what do we do? With those large oceans of information right there at our disposal, the only thing left for us to do is research the Web and verify the source afterward. We do this to avoid plagiarism, one of the biggest enemies of every writer or academic student.
Since we rely on online sources for gaining and exchanging information for varied purposes, it is our obligation and our task to discover whether these sources are trustworthy, especially if we choose to use them. Thankfully, there are some proven ways to see if a source is credible or not, and we are about to teach them to you.
How to Determine if an Online Resource is a Credible One
There are so many ways to make this happen and yet, people still seem to rely on solely one tool or just ‘go with their gut’. This is very ineffective and in most cases, it creates many problems for those who used the unreliable source.
Sure, you can and should definitely use online tools and software to make sure that the content you’ve cited is 100% original. Such tools include the OWL at Purdue, as well as the plagiarism checker at Grammarly.
But, once you are done using the software, you still need to use a more traditional, human-based approach to check a source. Here are some of the best tips that will help you achieve this.
1. Use Trustworthy Websites
Some websites have been online for as long as people can remember and have more than proven that they are trustworthy. Popular and reliable news websites and informational sites are the safest source of information.
Of course, if you can’t find enough data on the reliable sites you know of, you’d still have to use other sources. But, the first and best tip we can give you is to check the websites you know are safe first and see if they offer what you need.
2. Always Look at the Date
An outdated source is an unreliable source, always. So, if you plan to use information that is limited in terms of time, always check the date that’s attached to it. In academic writing, this is especially important. To use reliable and up-to-date data, you need to find something more recent.
Still, keep in mind that many site owners re-publish their old posts under new, updated dates. You can easily see this through the links. If a post is old and the creator decided to re-publish it under a new date, it will probably have more than one dead link in it. This is your red flag.
3. Check the Domain and TLD
One highly popular way to check if an online resource is credible is to check its domain and TLD. Every site ends in a TLD such as .com, .org, etc.
For example, .com TLDs are most often used by businesses and for business purposes. You should take such websites with a bit of reservation since these sites are liable to bias because of their goal to sell something.
On the other hand, the TLD .edu belongs to colleges, universities, and other educational institutions or organizations. If you find the credentials of the people who posted articles or other data on such sites, these are definitely a reliable source.
Still, you can’t be 100% certain that a source is reliable just because of the TLD. This is just a beginning and must be mixed with other actions if you want to make sure of the source’s credibility.
4. Look for Credentials
Every content online is written by someone. If you can find the credentials of the author, you might be able to determine the credibility of the source. Random names of people who aren’t at all existent on the Web aren’t a good sign. A person who’s certified and has big online presence is.
5. Always Dig Deeper
Do you know what they say about doctors and diagnosis? It is best to look for a second opinion. Well, you should also apply this approach to research. When it comes to data credibility, you should always seek for a second and a third source. Dig a little deeper. See what the author has written in the past and what people think of his work.
6. Get Help
If you aren’t sure of your abilities to check the credibility of a source, you might want to choose the safest option and hire someone who can do this for you. People who have done this for a long time are masterful at detecting bad sources. In fact, the best experts will know if a source isn’t credible just by looking at it, most of the time.
There are plenty of ways to see if a resource is reliable and trustworthy. If you want to create original content or check the credibility of a source you get information from, you should definitely take measures to check this.
Finding an author’s name on a website isn’t a sure sign that it is credible, and neither does reading the latest post on the site most certainly a new post. By checking for popularity, authorship, domain and TLD and other factors, you can’t be certain of a source’s credibility. Yes, you can and should use the tools we mentioned but the bottom line is, you need to also take action to make sure of this.