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Succeeding in postgraduate study
Succeeding in postgraduate study

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6.1 Evaluating information on the internet

It is particularly important to evaluate information you find on the internet, as anyone can create a website, blog or wiki and add information that appears to be authoritative.

Activity 7 What criteria would you use to evaluate a website?

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes

Think about the criteria you currently use to evaluate websites, and make a brief note of these.

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You may have chosen words such as ‘current’, ‘relevant’, ‘authoritative’, ‘objective’, ‘clear’ or ‘accurate’ when outlining your evaluation criteria. Although it may not be easy to judge whether a particular site is ‘objective’ or ‘accurate’ if it falls outside of your own particular field of study or specific discipline area, there are certain checks that you can make, which may require you to undertake further investigation and to consult additional sources to determine ‘credibility’ (of the site’s author/organisation/copyright holder, for example), ‘authority’ and ‘impact’. The Open University has developed a framework that can be used for evaluating websites, this has the mnemonic ‘PROMPT’ to help you remember it. There are six criteria, which we can use to evaluate information in a structured way. These are: Provenance, Relevance, Objectivity, Method, Presentation and Timeliness (PROMPT).