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Should I use this information?: Is this information good enough?

This guide poses some questions that will help you decide what information sources are best for your work

Not all information is created equal

When you find information for your assignment you need to decide if it is good enough to use.  

When you use reliable high quality information as a starting point for your work it provides you with a solid base that translates into good marks.   

Evaluate = to judge or calculate the quality,

importance, amount or value of something       

Learning how to evaluate information sources is a key research skill.  Use this guide as a starting point to help you evaluate all types of information in any format - print or online.

Try some simple questions to differentiate between fact and fiction, theory and opinion, to judge credibility, reliability and recognise partiality or bias.

What should I use?

Before you use a source in your assignment ask yourself whether it meets the needs of your research task. For example:

• Did your lecturer specify the use of particular sources? e.g. peer reviewed article only
• Is a particular timeframe required? e.g. only sources published in the past 5 years
• Are you required to undertake a broad search? If so you need to use a wide range of reputable sources
• Does the source relate to your assignment topic? Is the information too basic / too advanced?
• Always compare multiple sources to see which one is best for your project /assignment

The CRAAP test

Guide to evaluating information sources (Printable)

Ask yourself these questions

Isyourinformationanygoodcheck title=

Is this information right for my assignment...?

Who

  • Who is the author? Are they a qualified expert with academic credential in the subject?
  • Can you identify the institution or organisation, if any, to which the author is affiliated?
  • Who is the intended audience for the work? Is it meant for the general public or for a more specialised, academic audience?
  • Who published it? What type of information do they usually publish?

Why

Question the motives someone may have in creating information.

  • Why was it written? 
  • Is it fact based or opinion based?
  • Is it intended to inform, educate, entertain, sell something?
  • What ideas is the author trying to promote?
  • Is the argument being presented balanced or does there seem to be a bias?

 

 

Where

Being aware of where you find information will help you decide on its usefulness. If you find information via DkIT Library then it has already been through a quality control process that ensures it is of a good standard. You will still need to evaluate whether it is appropriate your particular academic task.

Where did the information come from? Is it a popular press publication, trade publication, academic journal or something else?

Did you find it using the DkIT Library catalogue or subscribed databases?

Is it from the web?  Remember that anyone can publish on the web so It can be difficult to judge the quality of a website. See Evaluating Web Sources

Where are the sources the author used to create the information? A reference list or bibliography should list these sources

 

When

  • When was it written?
  • Has it been updated? Are there newer editions or revisions?
  • Has the material changed from a previous publication?
  • Is the timeframe appropriate for your assignment? Does your source need to be current? In some subject areas you will be expected to use up-to-date sources, in others older sources may be just as useful.