Evaluating Information Sources


Evaluating Information Sources

Why Evaluate?

Why Evaluate?

By engaging with and citing a resource in your research you are telling your reader that it is appropriate and relevant to your topic. So it is important that you critically evaluate a resource before deciding whether it is acceptable to use in your research.

You may find this process difficult at first but keep in mind that the more research you do the easier evaluating resources will get!

When evaluating a resource consider the authority, accuracy and coverage.

How to Evaluate Resources

Authority

Authority

An important thing to consider when deciding if a resource is acceptable for your research is the authority of the author or the organization. 

Anyone can put out information on any topic but that does not mean that they are qualified to do so.

Author

  • Who wrote it?
  • What are their credentials?
  • What department or institute are they associated with/work for?
  • What is their contact information?
  • Who published it?

Why question Authority?

Anyone is free to comment on anything but that does not make them an expert on the topic. If you intend to engage with a resource and use it in your own research you need to consider whether the author is qualified and understands the information that they are writing on.

Scholarly?

  • Is the author an academic or researcher?
  • Is the author affiliated with a scholarly or research institute?

Why question if the resource is Scholarly?

Scholarly sources are written by qualified authors and aim to present and share original research. These resources are connected to other scholarly work, so the authors document the resources they used in their own research. A scholarly resource will have been written by a qualified author and vetted by experts in the field, this means that the information they put out can be trusted.

But, remember to take organizational and individual biases into account.

Accuracy

Accuracy

Before referencing a source in your research it is important to determine if the source is legitimate and the information that it is providing factual.

Accuracy

  • Is the work academic in nature?
  • Is it published in a peer reviewed journal or edited book?
  • Who are they citing?
  • Are they providing evidence to support their claims?
  • Does the information sound factual?

Why question Accuracy?

As a university student your research is part of an ongoing academic discourse between scholars. This means that in order to properly engage in the conversation it is important that you are referring back to sources that are legitimate and provide valid information.

Currency

  • When was the book or article published?
  • When was the website last updated?
  • Is the information outdated?
  • Do you need a current source for your research?

Why question Currency?

The date of publication or creation may or may not matter for everything you’re researching, but it is important to know if you need something current. In certain fields information becomes outdated more quickly than in other so it is important to consider whether a source is worth looking at in its relation to your research.

Purpose

Purpose

When selecting a source for your research it is important to consider the purpose of the publication and its relevance to your work.

Purpose

  • Is this an academic or popular source?
  • Why was it written?
  • Do you sense a bias?
  • Do you feel that the information is being presented in a certain way?

Why question Purpose?

The purpose of a source will tell you why the author chose to write it and why they are presenting their argument from a particular angle. Understanding the purpose of your source will allow you to engage critically with the information provided.

Relevance

  • Does this information relate to my topic?
  • Is the information wrtitten at the right level?
  • Who is the intended audience?

Why question Relevance?

Relevance may be one of the first criteria you consider when deciding whether to use a source in your research. Before committing to a source you should first determine if it is of use to you in your research. Since most of your research will focus on engaging with scholarly sources it is also important to consider whether the source was written for an academic community at a discipline specific level.

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