Step 5: Evaluating Information
Can your sources pass the Evaluation Quiz? A good researcher evaluates all sources before accepting the information they contain.
World Wide Web resources (if your instructor permits their use) should be subjected to an even more rigorous evaluation process, as anyone can publish to the Web. Read this helpful guide to judging the quality of Web sites from UC Berkeley.
Evaluate all of your sources according to these criteria:
Authority/Accuracy of Information:
- Can facts and statistics in the resources confirmed by reliable sources?
- Are the credentials of the author(s) credible? (Who or what is the source of the information? Are they random web-surfers or well-known sources such as The Statesman's Yearbook?)
- Can accuracy and authority of sources be verified by other sources available at the library, such as biographical information on authors, or statistical and data resources?
Bias or reliability of information:
- Does the author appears to be partial to a particular viewpoint or aspect of the topic?
- Who wrote the material? Who published it? By what institution was it published? Do any of these factors reveal a hidden prejudice or agenda behind creating the resource?
- Not all bias in research information is bad! If you are looking for facts, viewpoints, and case histories to back up pro-or-con arguments in his research work, then bias of information can be valuable - as long as the information passes other evaluation criteria of currency, accuracy, and authority.
Currency of information:
- Does the resource state when the book, article, newspaper article, pamphlet, or Internet source was created?
- Is the resource current enough for the research being done? (more important when searching for information on current events, controversial, current topics, or fast-changing industries, such as medicine and technology.)
Relevance of the Information:
- Is the information useful to the researcher's research? Or, does it consist of mostly trivial information or facts?
- Is the information comprehensive?
- For what audience is the information intended? Will it be above or below the level of information that your intended audience will accept and need?
- Do you understand the information?
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009