When doing research, it is important to find information that is reliable and appropriate for your assignment.
Some assignments may require you to use certain types of sources such as primary or secondary sources, or specific types of periodicals such as scholarly journals. Other assignments may require you to limit the number of sources you use. Often Internet sources fall into this category.
In all cases, you should always evaluate the information included in your assignments. Watch the following video on how to evaluate the quality of the information you found. This video is from James Madison University Libraries.
Knowing how to evaluate information will help you with research assignments and also with the bigger decisions you make in life.
Knowing how to find relevant, reliable, and accurate information can help you make informed decisions about things like postgraduate studies, a new car purchase, financial aid options, daycare choices, and more.
Trustworthy or Untrustworthy: Internet Detective handout
Evaluation criteria for websites
The following criteria are appropriate for evaluating information of any kind. Evaluation is especially imporant when dealing with information found online. Review the following criteria and answer the questions based on the web page you are evaluating. A high quality source with quality information will enable you to answer MOST of the questions with a "YES."
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?
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?
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?
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?
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, Camdon-Carroll Library, Morehead State University, USA.