Once you decide which sources are potentially useful, you need to evaluate that information for its overall reliability and trustworthiness. A good way to go about is using a set of basic criteria for evaluating information. When used together they indicate the reliability of that piece of information.
Determining the knowledge and expertise of the author of information is an important aspect of evaluating the reliability of information.
Some indications of knowledge of or expertise are:
Some indications that information is accurate are:
Some indications that information may not be accurate are:
It's important to establish that the information you intend to use is objective, or if it is not, to establish exactly what the point of view or bias is. There are times when information expressing a particular point of view or bias is useful, but you must use it consciously. You must know what the point of view is and why that point of view is important to your topic.
Some indications that information is objective are:
Some indications that information may not be objective are
Some indications that coverage is adequate:
Some indications that the coverage is not adequate
The date information was published or produced tells you how current it is or how contemporaneous it is with the topic you are researching.
Key indicators of the currency of the information are:
* Keep in mind that books may have multiple printing dates. Therefore you need to go by the copyright date rather than a reprint date unless there is a clearly marked 'revised' date that is later than the copyright date.
Determining the intended audience of a particular piece of information will help you decide whether or not the information will be too basic, too technical, too general, or just right for your needs. The intended audience can also indicate the potential reliability of the item because some audiences require more documentation than others. For example, publications produced for scholarly audiences are generally produced by experts and go through a peer evaluation process. Publications produced for the mass market frequently are not produced by experts and generally do not go through an evaluation process.
Some indications of the intended audience are: