Module 5 - How reliable and qualitative is the information found?

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2.1 How to recognize a good website?

Below a number of quality criteria are summarized by key concepts for content-related assessment of website quality.

RELIABILITY: Is the content of the source well-documented and correct?

  • Is the information objective and based on solid research?
  • Does it contain references or a substantial reference list?
  • Does the source come in another format as well that is considered to be qualitative and reliable?
  • If there is a certain bias, is it openly acknowledged and is it restricted to an acceptable level?
  • Was noticeable care taken to compile the information?

Primarily pay attention to​:

  • bibliographical references and reference lists;
  • justification of the origin of the information;
  • statement on the website's objective;
  • writing errors, spelling errors and grammatical errors;
  • extensions: sites by educational institutions (US: .edu / UK:, non-profit organizations (.org) and governments (US: .gov) are generally more reliable than commercial sites (.com); personal pages often have tildes (~) in their addresses.

TOPICALITY: Is the content of the source up-to-date?

  • Are the content and information well-maintained?
  • Is newly available information added quickly?

Primarily pay attention to​:

  • the date the information is created or published ('creation date' or 'publication date');
  • the date the information was last renewed ('last updated date');
  • a notification on the update or publication frequency;
  • the availability of archived information.

STATUS: How authoritative is the source?

  • Who offers the information on the internet?
  • Is the source recognized as being authentic and authoritative?
  • What is the status of the author and/or publisher?

Primarily pay attention to​:

  • further information on author and publisher (possibly through links like about us, contact our company, etcetera);
  • further justification of the origin of the sources of information where certain presented facts and data were retrieved.

To verify the importance or authority of the website, you could check how many times external websites reference the corresponding source website, through the Google link-filter. When entering for example, a list of all websites referencing the UHasselt website appears.

COMPLETENESS: What is the scope and the depth of the information?

  • Is the subject elaborated sufficiently in depth?
  • Are the various aspects of the subject covered sufficiently?
  • Are there any identifiable gaps of information?

Primarily pay attention to​:

  • a table of contents
  • an index
  • a site map
  • bibliographical references and reference lists