• Who is the Author, are they suitably qualified in their field? (Authority).
• Can you identify the institution or organisation, if any, to which the author is affiliated? (Google the author if unsure).
• Who is the intended audience for the work? Is it meant for the general public or for a more specialised, academic audience?
Why was the information created? (Purpose).
• Is the information fact based or just somebody’s opinion?
• Is it intended to inform, educate, entertain or sell you something?
• Observe the tone.
• Is the article balanced or does it show bias?
Where did the information come from? (Relevancy).
When was the information published? (Currency).
• Has it been updated lately?
• Do newer editions or revisions exist?
• Is the time frame appropriate for your assignment?
(In some subject areas you need to use current, up-to-date information, in other areas older sources may be just as useful).
Top Tip: keep a journal and take note of all the useful sources of information you use, it may come in handy for future assignments.
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.
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.