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Evaluation of Information Sources

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by Martin Wallace on 19 February 2014

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Transcript of Evaluation of Information Sources

Information Source
Information sources come in many forms such as books, periodicals and websites and they contain varied information such as text, images, audio and video. They may be produced by professionals or amateurs and they can serve any number of purposes, such as academic research, political causes, marketing, or entertainment. Fortunately, we can evaluate an information source to determine its trustworthiness and its appropriateness for use in a research project. Here are some criteria to consider...
Purpose
What is the purpose, scope or intention of the source? Is it educational, commercial, entertainment or promotional? You can sometimes find this by reading the preface or the abstract. On websites you can look in the "about" or "mission" section. If you can not find a stated purpose or intention of the source, see if you can determine it's purpose from the content.
Audience
Who is the intended audience or consumer of the information presented? Audience is not always clearly specified so look for clues such as the language and tone used, MPAA or other ratings for age-appropriateness, or the location of the source. Scholarly books will often include something in the introduction about their intended audience, and technical materials will often indicate difficulty level.
Authority
Is an author clearly identified, and if so, can you locate his or her credentials either within the information source or from the author's own website? If not, is the source created by a reputable organization? Is the author an expert or professional in the field? Can the author be contacted? Does the author cite his or her sources or just expect you to take his word?
When was the information source last updated, and how frequently is it updated? Books will usually show an edition (if other than the 1st) and year published on it's copyright page. Reputable websites will clearly indicate when an article was published and when the site was last updated. Scholarly journal articles are clearly dated on their covers and usually on the cover pages of each article within.
Currency
Accuracy
Do the basic facts presented corroborate with other known sources, such as encyclopedias, textbooks and common knowledge? Are arguments laid out logically or does the author jump to unverifiable conclusions?
Type of Publication
Evaluation of Information Sources
Popular magazine or website
Trade publication
Scholarly or peer-reviewed journal
Conference paper
Reference book
Literature review
Industry Standard
Technical or clinical report
Newspaper or news website
Objectivity
Quality
Are grammar and spelling correct? Has the work been edited for appropriate tone and consistent language usage? Is there an index, a bibliography, helpful graphs and charts? All of these things and more indicate a higher quality publication because time and care were taken to include these supporting materials.
Also:
Primary
Secondary
Tertiary
Is the information factual? If it includes opinion, does it offer supporting arguments for the stated opinions? Is there any bias or conflict of interest, and how transparent are they?
Scholarly, Trade or Popular?
What's the difference?

http://www.library.umaine.edu/general/scholarly_popular.htm
Primary, Secondary or Tertiary?
What's the difference?
http://www.lib.umd.edu/tl/guides/primary-sources
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