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DIY Research Guide: 5. Evaluate Info Sources

Find answers to frequently asked questions.

Check Everything

Now that you've searched and found various information sources, how well do they all fit together?  Do different sources contradict each other?  How reliable is the information you found?  As you research it is vitally important to critically review and reflect on everything you encounter, even the most seemly reputable sources.

Criteria For Evaluating Information

When searching for information, whether it is in a book, in an article or on the web, you will find both high quality and poor quality information. You must carefully choose the information you use. Review the following criteria and answer the questions based on the information you are evaluating. A high quality source with quality information will enable you to answer MOST of the questions with a "YES."

 

Authority

Defines  who created the content,  the individual or group's credentials/expertise and provides contact information

  • Do you know who published the source?
  • Is the author's name easily visible?
  • What are the author's credentials and are they appropriate for the information provided?
  • Can you find contact information?
  • Is the source produced by a reputable organization?

Objectivity

Content is balanced, presenting all sides of an issue and multiple points-of-view

  • Are various points-of-view presented?
  • Is the source free of bias towards one point-of-view?
  • Is the objectivity of the source consistent with its purpose?
  • Is the source free of advertising?

Accuracy

Content is grammatically correct, verifiable and cited when necessary

  • Is the content grammatically correct?
  • Is the information accurate and verifiable?
  • Are sources and references cited?
  • Does the tone and style imply accuracy?

Scope

Content is relevant to your topic or research

  • Does the purpose of the source (e.g. research, statistical, organizational) meet your needs?
  • Who is the intended audience? Will information directed to this audience meet your needs?
  • Is the information relevant to your research topic?

Currency

Information is current and updated frequently

  • Do you know when the information was originally published and is the date acceptable?
  • Do you know when the information was last updated and is the date acceptable?
  • Are web  links current and reliable?
  • Do charts and graphs have dates?

 

**Used with permission, Eastern Kentucky University Libraries.

Test Yourself

Review the websites below and attempt to answer the above questions for each site.  Which ones are credible for academic research and which ones might be less so?  In what contexts could they each be credible sources?

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Internet Detective

The tutorial below will teach you how to find quality information on the web.

*From the Intute Virtual Training Suite.