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Once you've found information on your topic, it is important that you evaluate the information to make sure it is considered "good quality."
Since anyone can publish on the web, you simply cannot believe everything that you read. In addition, different types of publications are intended for different audiences and different purposes. When you are doing research, it is important to critically evaluate each source to determine who is publishing it, what is the purpose of the publication, and whether or not it includes accurate information.
Guide to Evaluating Sources
This chart contains a variety of questions that you should ask yourself when evaluating books, periodicals, and web sites based on five main criteria.
Five Criteria for Evaluating Sources
||Questions to Ask Yourself When Evaluating:
- What is the publication/creation date?
- Does this time period meet your information need?
- When was the last update?
- Are all the links up-to-date? (for web resources)
- Who is the author? What are his/her credentials?
- Has this author been cited in your other sources?
- Who is publishing this information (individual, non-profit organization, commercial entity)?
- Do other sources contain the same information?
- Is evidence given to support the information?
- Are other sources cited?
- If the information is outdated, does it still accurately reflect the knowledge in the field?
- Are there selection criteria given for the links to other pages and are the links relevant to the topic (for web resources)?
- Is the site edited, or does it contain typographical errors (for web resources)?
- Who is the intended audience (students, researchers, trade members)?
- Is this source appropriate for your needs and understanding of the topic?
|Point of View (Bias)
- Does the source present the information from a particular bias or single viewpoint?
- Does the information contain the facts or an interpretation of the facts?
- Does the source contain assumptions or opinions that are not backed by research?
- Does the sponsoring organization or site have a stake in how the information is presented?
- Does the information contain advertising?
Popular vs Scholarly Sources
Popular vs Scholarly Sources
|Who wrote it?
||reporters or staff writers
||researchers, experts in the field with a known affiliation (university, research lab, etc.)
|Who was it written for?
||other researchers or experts
|How long is it?
||short, easily readable in a short period of time
|How much detail?
||overview of topic
||includes data, graphs, charts, and analysis of that data
|How do you verify info?
||cited works or bibliography in addition to publication's reputation
|Where is accessible?
||grocery store, airport, bookstores, free websites
||library subscription, professional society literature