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Hello and welcome to

how to evaluate information a presentation by the American Public


Online Library. We evaluate things every day.

Whether it's a movie we just saw with friends

or a dinner at a fancy restaurant. It's no different in academic research.

The criteria for evaluating information, however,

are more rigorous then the criteria we use to review the latest

Avengers movie whether mango salsa they came with their meal!

"How do you make sense

and what is out there and evaluate its authority

inappropriateness for your research?" This question,

posed by the University of California Berkeley librarians,

is one face by every student and researcher.

How do I know if what I found is good?

Critical evaluation is vital to scholarly endeavors.

It is important to use the standards of your field of study

but also to develop your own personal criteria for evaluation.

Fortunately, the criteria for judging the quality of print and web site resources

have been outlined by numerous librarians at numerous

institutions over the years. Given the massive amount of information resources

available to researchers nowadays, you may be tempted to use the first

resources you find.

This should be resisted. Evaluating a resource

is an important part doing research. Learning how to evaluate effectively

is a skill you will use not only for single piece

research but throughout your professional life. These six areas should be


as you locate and read through your information resources:

Scope, Currency,

Authority, Validity/Accuracy,

Audience, and Point of View.

Scope. What is the breadth of the resource you are considering?

Is it a more general work providing you with an overview?

Or is it more specifically focused on a single

aspect of your topic? Does this level of coverage

match the level or degree of coverage of your research question?

Does it cover the time period you're interested in?

Currency. When was the source

published? If it is a website, one was it last updated?

If your research requires current information,

historical information, or information over a period of time,

you need to make sure the resource answers that need.

That is current events will need very up-to-date information

while historical research might need older material

or even material written at the time the historical event occurred.

And if the resource is a website,

check to see that the links are up to date. Broken links can signal

and inactive website.

Authority. The authoritativeness of a resource

refers to credibility of who is creating or supplying the information.

If the resource is a book or article,

what are the author's professional credentials and reputation?

What is his or her level of expertise?

Have they published or written about this subject before?

Do other authors cite this person's work?

If the resource is a website,

who is providing the content? Is it an educational institution,

a government agency, a nonprofit or commercial organization?

Is the provider a reputable organization?

Is there an author or contact person listed?

If so, what are that author's credentials?

And you'll want to know if the site has been reviewed by experts

or other professional organizations.

The language or style of a resource can also inform you

as to whether or not its authoritative.

Is a language objective or emotional?

Is the author presenting information or trying to persuade

or manipulate the reader? Does the other make broad generalizations

that overstate or oversimplify things?


When determining if an information resource is a valid one,

what you're looking for is how accurate it is.

Can you verify the content using other sources?

Do those sources report the same information?

Does the author or provider give evidence to support what they're saying?

Did they cite the sources they've used?

If a website, does the provider present the selection criteria

used for the links found on the site? Is the website

well edited? Are there typographical errors?

Audience. Determining who the intended

audience is for particular information resource

helps you decide if the source is appropriate for your needs.

Is it targeting researchers or experts,

tradespersons or professionals, or the general public?

Is its approach highly technical or advanced

or elementary.

Point of View (Bias). While it is not incorrect to cite a resource

that expresses a particular point of view, from the standpoint

of evaluating information it is important

that the researcher recognizes this. One needs to ask:

What point viewed does the author represent?

Is the article and editorial that is trying to argue a position,

a report that shows evidence to support only one interpretation,

or a factual article simply reporting an event

or the process and findings of an experiment?

If a website, is it sponsored by a company

or organization that advocates a certain philosophy

a political viewpoint? Is the article published in a magazine that has a


editorial position? Does the author or website

present information that is one-sided

with no acknowledgement other viewpoints?

Good research is dispassionate and impartial.

It reports information accurately and thoughtfully.

A good researcher respects the work others

by citing all sources used.

Well-written research demonstrates an awareness

of its intended audience. If making a claim,

challenging or developing a theory, or simply

explaining, a good researcher is one whose

expertise is demonstrated in his or her professional credentials

and scholarly background. In evaluating information resources

don't be afraid to take a close look.

Simply being published in a book or journal are being posted on a website

does not mean a resource is a good one.

Don't forget that we have a team of

expert librarians ready to assist you in your work.

All are subject specialists. Most have Master's degrees

in addition to the Master's in Library and Information Science.

And several have PhD's. We are here to help!

The online library

is open 24/7 every day of the year.

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