Tip#1: Use Wikipedia wisely.
Chances are, you have used Wikipedia.org before. Its is a wonderful source of all kinds of information and is perhaps the best place to get an overall understanding of the topic. A word of caution: do not rely on wikipedia for politically sensitive information. Since anyone can contribute to wikipedia, people and organizations use it to promote their own agenda. Companies and governments have been caught editing out unfavorable information.
Tip#2: Check if the website is listed in the Open Directory Project.
Open Directory Project (dmoz.org) is the largest and oldest volunteer-run website directory. Every website listed there is pre-approved by qualified editors. This means that there is little chance that low-quality websites are included. If you are just starting out your research, it is not a bad idea to start from dmoz.org, some of the initial evaluation has already been performed by the directory editors for you!
Tip#3: Check web site history via Way Back Machine.
Age of the information can give you good cues on the relevance of the information presented. The Way Back machine (www.archive.org) is the only place on the web that has been archiving almost every website since the web’s early days back in ’96. Besides checking the site’s age to determine its quality, you can track how the views on the subject has changed on the particular topic, much like you’d flip through an old newspaper stack.
Tip#4: Look at the amount of pages the site has.
This one is easy. Generally, the more pages the website has the more trusted it is. The logic is simple – the more the person writes on the subject the more knowledgeable he is.
Tip#5: Look at who is linking to the site.
“Tell me who your friends are, and I will know who you are”. This proverb works on the Web as well. When in doubt of the quality of information on the web site, take a quick look at the incoming links to the site. Sites with authoritative information attract mentions and links from respected magazines, government reports, and academic studies.