Authority refers to the expertise or recognized official status of a source. Consider the reputation of the author and publisher.
Who created the web page?
1. Look for sponsoring information, contact information and legal notices.
2. To check site ownership, enter the web address in the search boxes on the following sites. Do not enter http://www or https://. For instance, to search the University of Akron's web address, just enter uakron.edu
a) https://lookup.icann.org/ - just enter domain name (example= for this web address, enter internic.net).
b) https://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp - this "whois" service lists the person’s name, address and email information!
c) https://net.educause.edu/whois.htm - use this site to look up information about .EDU domains.
3. To help determine who is behind the web page, look at the domain name in the web address. Every domain name has a suffix that indicates which top level domain it belongs to. See the box below for some common domain name suffixes.
Education institutions (.edu) can be very reliable, but these institutions provide web space for faculty, staff and students. The web addresses for individuals at the university will also end in .edu and the university has no quality control over the content of these sites. So follow the same guidelines for web sites ending in .edu as you would for any other web site.
Commercial websites (.com) can show bias by promoting their products and criticizing their competition.
Facebook: Click on the i icon for the author and other information. Image to the left shows a news article on Facebook with an i icon.
Can you trust the information on the site?
Is the sponsoring organization recognized in the field?
Would the sponsoring organization likely have an agenda?
Does the website allow advertising? How obtrusive are the ads? Are the advertisers chosen or are they just Google ads (ad server), or ads automatically generated by contextual browsing? This could indicate a purpose behind the web page. For instance, is the purpose for the content on the page just to generate click action for the ad?
Determine the credibility of the author
Is the author well-known in his/her field? What is his/her credentials? What is the author's organizational affiliations?
Does the listed background or education look like someone who is qualified to write on this topic?
Can you contact the author? Is there a phone number, mailing address or e-mail address?
How to test the author’s knowledge of the topic
1. Knowledge of the literature- “the context in which the author situates his/her work. This reveals what the author knows about his/her discipline and its practices.” (Source)
2. Does the content include a bibliography?
3. Does the author display knowledge of related sources, with proper attribution
4. Does the author display knowledge of theories, schools of thought, or techniques usually considered appropriate in the treatment of his/her subject?
5. If the author is using a new theory or technique as a basis for research, does he/she discuss the value and/or limitations of this new approach?
6. If the author’s treatment of the subject is controversial, does he/she know and acknowledge this?
What sites link to this page?
Respected authors are cited frequently by other scholars. This can also apply to web content.
Concerning blogs, do many blogs link to this blog?
Do not rely on search engine link relevancy as an indicator of quality. Placement near the top of a search results page is not an automatic indicator of quality. Many sites pay to be placed at the top of a search.
Language used on websites is usually written in a simple style to reach a broad audience, but blogs often target a specific community. Overused jargon, catchphrases, technical terminology, and meaningless clichés can interfere with understanding. There can be high quality writing or poor writing. Check the readability of the writing by using some of the free tools in the box below.
Here are just a few you will commonly see:
.gov – government web site.
.edu- educational institution.
.com- commercial site, for profit.
.org – non-profit organization; sometimes professional organization, but not always.
.mil- military site.
.net – network organizations.
Check readability of websites and blogs by using some of these free online tools.