When individuals are credible, you have reasonable grounds to believe or trust them. A witness in a trial, for example, may not seem credible to a jury if he or she has a history of crime and substance abuse. On the other hand, a witness who has a clean record and outstanding moral character would seem more credible to that same jury.
Just as a person can be considered credible or not credible, so can something. You may not trust skydiving because of the number of stories about parachutes not opening. On the other hand, you might trust flying in an airplane because the odds of crashing are slight. In research, writers always want to use credible sources. A credible source is one that is trustworthy, providing true, accurate, and balanced information.
Web Site Credibility
Generally, periodicals, journals, and other sources found in the University Library are considered credible because professionals must gain approval of the writing before publication. On the other hand, anyone can create a Web site, so the credibility of that information is usually more difficult to determine.
Evaluating Web Sites
Most people conduct Internet research by using a search engine such as Google or Yahoo and typing in key words. This process normally turns up thousands of Web site "hits." Some of these sites are reliable, whereas others are not. To determine a Web site's credibility, consider the following questions:
What is the Web site's purpose and affiliation?
What are the author's credentials?
Is the information current?
Does the information cross-reference well with other sites?
Does the Web site look professional?
What is the Web Site's Purpose and Affiliation?
Your audience determines your purpose in writing in order to trust you. In the same way, to trust the credibility of a Web site, viewers must evaluate the site's purpose. If a Web site is a business whose purpose is to sell you a product, for example, then would you...