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Evaluating Information

The following questions and hints will be helpful when you are trying to evaluate a resource for your research:

Authority or Author

  • Who is the author? Is it an individual or a corporate author?
  • What are the author’s credentials (education, experience, institutional affiliation)?
  • Does the author display a bias or unique perspective?

Hint – The Web of Science and Scopus are both useful in determining the citation history of a specific author.

Relevance

  • Is the author writing on the subject of his or her expertise?
  • Is the author frequently cited/respected in the field of expertise?
  • When was the source published?
  • Is the publication date timely?
  • Who published the source? Does the publisher display a bias?
  • If published in a journal, is the journal peer-reviewed?

Hint –  To find information on the bias of organizations or publishers there are two print sources – the Right Guide (Q. 320.5202573 R4491997) and the Left Guide (Q. 320.51 L522) available in the reference area of the Social Science, Health and Education Library on the north side of the first floor of the Main Library that may be of assistance.

Content of Information Source

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • How well does the source cover your topic? All/Part/None?
  • Why is the article being written?
  • Are sources being cited?
  • Are arguments logically presented?
  • Are conclusions based on evidence provided in the source?
  • Is there a list of cited sources?
  • If the source is a book, does it include an index?
  • Is this a primary or secondary source?

Hint –  Need help on how to cite resources?  Go to the OWL.

Any Remaining Issues

  • What is your overall impression of this source?
  • Are there any remaining questions you have about the source that might bring into question its appropriateness?

Questions prepared by David Ellenwood and Lynne Rudasill.  Please contact rudasill@illinois.edu with any questions or suggestions.