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Guide to Critical Thinking

CHECKLIST FOR EVALUATING INFORMATION

 

IDENTIFYING YOUR INFORMATION NEED

  • What do you already know about your subject?
  • What are your preconceived ideas or biases?
  • Do you want general or specialized information?
  • What is the central focus of your information need?
  • How much information do you require?
  • What types of information do you want?

 

EVALUATING THE SOURCE OF THE INFORMATION

  • How did you discover the source – an index? bibliography? reference work? web search engine?
  • What type of source is it – scholarly? general? commercial?
  • What are the author’s or producer’s qualifications on this topic? – education? experience? occupation? position? affiliation?
  • When was the information published?
  • Where was the information published?
  • What is the publisher’s reputation and/or type – university press?  alternative press or website? commercial press or website? private organization?
  • Was the material reviewed or edited for publication?
  • Does the source show political or cultural biases?
  • Is a bibliography or other form of documentation included?
  • Is it organized so you can easily access the information you require?

 

DETERMINING THE SUITABILITY OF THE SOURCE

  • What is the scope and purpose of the work?
  • Who is the audience for the work – general public? students? experts?
  • Is the information presented clearly and objectively?
  • Is the work suitable for your level of understanding of the subject?
  • Does it have the features you need – graphs? tables? charts?
  • Does it contain the information you need?

 

– from Evaluating Information: A Basic Checklist by the American Library Association

 

For more help you can contact me at rudasill@illinois.edu or Ask-A-Librarian.