Evaluating Print and Online Information
Why should I evaluate what I find?
Information can have errors, either intentionally or unintentionally. Unlike most print resources, there are no editors on the Internet to proofread and edit a piece of information. Even if you are using peer reviewed sources it is still important to evaluate the source to make sure that it is credible.
How do I evaluate?
Documentation concerns the sources used to create a book, website, or journal article.
· Are sources listed?
· Does it correlate with other information that I have found from sources that are known to be accurate?
· Is it published in a scholarly or peer-reviewed publication?
· If the source has links, do they work?
Authority concerns the qualifications, and background of the individual who created the source. In some cases, you will need to look beyond the book, web page or journal article to find this information.
· Who is the author? What are their qualifications?
· Is the author affiliated with a reputable organization, government agency, or university?
· What is the author’s expertise?
· Can I find information on the author or webmaster on an ‘about us’ page or another web page?
Relevance concerns whether the source actually covers your topic.
· Does this source cover the topic that I am looking for?
· How much detail does it go into concerning my topic?
Currency concerns how recent the source was created.
· When was the source published or last updated?
· Does my topic require me to have recent information?
Objectivity considers the objective or bias of a source. Please note that most sources will have a bias. This does not mean that it is a bad source to use for a project.
· What is the sources objective?
· Does the source promote a political, social or commercial agenda?
· What tone of language is used in the source?
Audience considers whom the source was written for.
· Is the source intended for a specific audience, such as children, college students, or trade professionals?