As you begin your research you will probably find lots of information from many types of sources. When you are college and in most professional settings after college you will be expected to use high quality sources of information for your work. As you gather information for your research projects, you'll find many sources in many formats such as books, articles from databases, Web documents, interviews, videos, and more.
Here are five criteria to evaluate the sources you find:
Relevancy - Does it answer your question or contribute to your research?
When considering the relevancy of a source, there are several things to ask yourself:
Currency - Is the content presented current enough for your project?
When considering the currency of a source, ask yourself:
Accuracy - Is the information provided correct?
When considering accuracy, ask yourself the following questions:
Authoritativeness - Does the author have expertise on the topic about which he/she is writing?
When considering authoritativeness, ask yourself:
Objectiveness - Is there bias or a slant given to the information provided?
When considering the objectiveness of a source, ask yourself the following questions:
Note: It's okay to use information from sources that contain strong arguments or opinions, but it's always a good idea to acknowledge the author's view.
It is particularly important that you evaluate any web resources you use (e.g. websites, blogs, wikis, etc.) because there is no editorial process for the web and anyone can post anything online. When evaluating web resources it is important to pay attention to details and examine these six main criteria:
So, how do you evaluate the information you find on the internet? Pay attention to the details! You'll want to examine the author, audience, date, content, purpose, affiliation, design, advertising, mission statements, contact information, etc. on each website you visit to determine the accuracy, authority, objectivity, currency, functionality, reliability, credibility, and validity of the site.
Check out these resources for additional help:
What About Library Resources?
In most cases, the books you get from the library and articles you find in the library's research databases are usually reliable and credible. These sources have usually gone through a traditional editorial process, which means that someone or some group has checked all the facts and arguments the author made and deemed them suitable for publishing. However, you still have to think about whether or not the book or article is current and relevant for your project--for example, library's often subscribe to popular magazines like "People" and "Vogue" which aren't generally considered scholarly sources.
More Help Evaluating Resources
Still need help evaluating resources? Check out one of the links below or ask a librarian: