It is important to evaluate the credibility of the websites you are using in order to make sure that the information is true and relevant. The credibility of your sources affects the credibility of your own work. Fogg describes credibility as a combination of two elements: trustworthiness and expertise (2003, p. 123). Trustworthiness is the perceived goodness or moral worth of the source. Expertise is described as the perceived knowledge or skill level of the source. For credibility to be achieved, both trustworthiness and expertise are necessary.
The Harvard University Guide to Using Sources website recommends assessing web resources to “determine the author’s credentials as well as the purpose and rationale for posting the site in the first place.” (Harvard University, 2016). John Hopkins University recommends considering how “’fresh’ or ‘dusty’” (John Hopkins University Library, 2016) the source is. For instance if the resource is older, newer research may have since been published which disproves earlier theories.
When completing assignments as a student, I have always been told that websites are not acceptable as references, as they are not considered credible. However I often do preliminary research via websites, using resources like Wikipedia for a general rundown on a subject, and searching individual questions I may have. I then use that knowledge base to guide my primary research via the ECU catalogue. So it is important that the websites I am using for my initial research are credible. If they contain untrue or misleading information then I will have an incorrect understanding of the research topic, and may find further research difficult.
Fogg, B. J. (2003). Persuasive technology: using computers to change what we think and do. Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.
Harvard University. (2016). Evaluating Web Sources. Harvard Guide to Using Sources: A Publication of the Harvard College Writing Program. Retrieved from http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k70847&pageid=icb.page346375
John Hopkins University Library. (2016). Evaluating Internet Resources. Evaluating Information. Retrieved from http://guides.library.jhu.edu/c.php?g=202581&p=1334997