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Checking for Objectivity
You need to ask:
- Does the information show a minimum of bias?
- Is the page designed to sway opinion?
- Is there any advertising on the page?
- Frequently the goals of the sponsors and/or authors are not clearly stated.
- Often the Web serves as a virtual "soap box" where the speaker stands and delivers an appeal, speech, or rant on some political topic
Do the Authors Make Their Purpose Clear?
Sometimes you will need to dig beneath the surface to find the purpose of a website.
The Life Happens website, for example, describes itself as a nonprofit organization that can help consumers make smart insurance decisions. It does provide a lot of information on different types of insurance, but as you explore the site you will find it also provides links to the insurance agents who belong to the insurance groups who finance the site.
So, what do you think - is the purpose of this site to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
A good resource should make it's intentions and purpose clear.
A site with basic information about life insurance, and disability and long-term care insurance, 'calculators' for determining the amount needed for these types of coverage, and links to insurance providers. Life Happens receives financial support from more than 140 of the nation’s leading insurance and financial services organizations.
Is There Any Bias to the Information?
When you find resources, it is important to understand the purpose of the information.
Is the information aiming to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
Organizations (their web address may end .org) often have a purpose or a mission so their information may be biased. Bias is not necessarily a negative factor, you just need to be aware of it.
Both the websites below have very different purposes and a different bias but they are both valid sites and could both contain useful information for a project or essay.
Portal with links to web sites funded by the Cattlemen's Beef Board and the Federation of State Beef Councils ('Checkoff' funding) and BeefUSA web sites produced by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, funded by membership dues.
The Vegetarian Society provides advice and information for vegetarian families, individuals, health professionals, chefs, and caterers. It "exists to influence, inspire and support people to embrace and maintain a vegetarian lifestyle." Established in 1847, they are the oldest vegetarian organization in the world, and is headquartered in the United Kingdom.