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Criteria for Evaluating Information Sources
When considering whether or not to use a particular source or information, there are some important questions to keep in mind.
- Who is the author of the work?
- What are his or her qualifications for writing on the topic?
- Consider education, employment history, relevant experience, current affiliations, and publication record.
- Who is the publisher?
- Is the publisher a trade publisher, university press, scholarly or professional organization, government agency, individual.
- Has the research and/or publication been supported financially by a third party?
- Is this third party a Government agency, foundation, or corporation?
- Is the information presented factual and complete?
- Is the source of the information well-documented?
- Is the writing clear and free of spelling, grammatical, and typographical errors?
- Has the document undergone prepublication editorial or peer review?
- Is the date of publication appropriate for the research topic?
- Are you looking for current events or historical information, or does it matter?
- What is the purpose of the document?
- Is the purpose to present new research, inform, educate, entertain, persuade, sell, complain, etc.?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is the intended audience Scholars in the field, undergraduates, general public, etc.?
- How broad or focused is the range of topics covered?
- Does the publication provide an introduction to the topic or an in-depth treatment?
- What time period is covered?
- Are all sides of the issue presented?
- How might the author's bias affect the content?
- How might the editorial policies of the publisher affect the content?
- How might the mission of agencies providing grant support affect the content?
- Are there advertisements in the publication?
- Might the advertisers influence the content?