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Research skills tutorial

Your guide to success!

Step 5 - Evaluate information

So far you have learned how to:

  • define your information need and use a thesaurus (Step 1)
  • create a search strategy and use search boosters (Step 2)
  • select appropriate information sources (Step 3)
  • find information via the library (Step 4)

 

However, how do you know if the information you have found is relevant or trustworthy?  You now need to evaluate the sources and information you have found.

It is easy to find lots of information when you are searching, but this does not mean that it is quality information.

QUALITY is better than QUANTITY

The information sources you choose can affect your work and your results.

You need to evaluate any information you find to ensure it is accurate, relevant, and good quality. There are 5 criteria you need to consider:

Authority

  • Who is the author? Are they an expert in their field and the topic?
  • Have they been cited by other authors?
  • Have they written other articles/books?
  • Who is the publisher?
  • Is the web page hosted on a reputable web site?
    e.g. educational website (.edu), government website (.gov)
  • Has the author been mentioned by other authors in that field?

 

Currency

  • When was the article/book published?
  • Is the publication date right for your need?
  • Do you need current or historical information?
  • How old is the information cited in the article/book?

 

Content

  • Is the information relevant to your topic?
  • Is the target audience appropriate?
  • Is it written in an academic or scholarly language?  Do you have to concentrate to understand it?
  • Is the information fact, spoof or satirical?
  • Are topics covered in depth, or does it have limited coverage?
  • How valuable is the information to your topic?

  

Accuracy

  • Was it recommended as a good information source by your lecturer?
  • Does it include an adequate explanation of the research methodology?
  • Can information be verified for accuracy in other sources?
  • Do you recognise authors in the bibliography?
  • Does the article/book provide links in the bibliography to other sources?
  • Have other experts in the field reviewed this information?
  • Have other websites you trust linked to this website?
  • You can find comments in other professional journals?

 

Bias

  • Is the author associated with an organisation with a clear bias on the topic?
  • Is the research sponsored by an organisation?
  • Is the author trying to sell or push a product or service?
  • Do other authors agree with the author's point of view?

 

Learn more about evaluation criteria

 

Watch this video to learn how to read effectively


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