Authority

Use these criteria to assist you evaluating the authority of a source.

  • Who is the author?
    • Is it clear who is responsible for the contents of the page?
    • What experiences or formal credentials does the author have?
    • Can you contact the author?
  • Who published the Web document?
    • Was this site developed by an academic institution or commercial organization with an established reputation in the topical area?
    • Is there a sponsoring organization? If so what is its purpose?

 Where to Look

  • The author or contact is usually located in the footer of the document.
  • Check for a link to the author's personal homepage or author's institutional affiliation. It is usually located in the header or footer.
  • Check the URL (Uniform Resource Locator).
    • EDU = educational institution, e.g. ups.edu
    • COM = commerical organization, e.g. microsoft.com
    • ORG = non-profit organization, e.g. npr.org
    • GOV = governmental organization, e.g. senate.gov
    • NET = network, e.g. internic.net
    •  ~ (tilda) personal name= personal homepage, e.g. /~smith/blacklist.html
  • Look in traditional reference sources, like Who's Who in America, Contemporary Authors, or Encyclopedia of Associations.
  • Look for a link to "About Us," Biography," or "Philosophy."
  • Try truncating elements of the URL.
  • Check Internic's Whois for information about the domain name.