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Research Basics: 4. Evaluating Information

How to search and find library resources

Being able to critically evaluate the information we encounter on the web is a valuable research skill. Why? So much information can be found online and not everything we read is true. Sometimes information can be narrowly accurate, yet still be so biased, selective, or leading as to make the information essentially useless for research purposes. Some information may have once been accurate but is now simply too out-of-date to be useful. Sometimes the authors of an article are not experts on what they are writing about. And sometimes the problem is not the accuracy of the information, it’s the lack of research-quality detail and substance. 

Being a critical consumer of information is helpful not only in school but also in our daily lives. Just as we need the information in our college papers to be based on reliable, quality sources, we also want the health advice, product reviews, and other kinds of information we personally use to be reliable.

Evaluating Sources for Credibility

Video courtesy of NCSU Libraries. This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license. 


When evaluating information, here are some questions to consider: 

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level?
  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?

Adapted from: Information Literacy Concepts: An Open Educational ResourceAttribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BYNC-SA 4.0)  Adapted from Mastering Academic Research developed at Florida Institute of Technology. Adapted from Research Foundations from Seminole State College of Florida Library.

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