Evaluation Techniques

What information are you looking for when you evaluate your sources? Next time try this Evaluation Rubric to walk you through determining a source’s credibility (click on the underlined text for the rubric).

Currency: the date of your source is always important! This is true if you’re looking for a recent item covering health, technology or science or if you’re looking for an historical cultural item. Does your source provide a date for when the content was created, revised or updated?

Relevance: first and foremost, is the source related to your topic? If not, you might want to revamp your search strategy! If it is, dig a little deeper. Did your instructor ask for peer-reviewed sources? Are you wanting to strengthen your article with some statistics? Will this source provide you with the information you need?

Authority: Who is the author? This is a BIG one. If your source doesn’t tell you the author, organization or publisher that created the content, there is no way to verify its accuracy! Does the author have credentials that demonstrate an expertise in the subject matter? This might require you to research your research sources, a step that can even be missed by a Supreme Court Justice!

From 10/6/14 “The Colbert Report” http://on.cc.com/1t5xRsP

Even if the author has a Ph.D. after his or her name, are the credentials relevant? Reading a scientific report on global warming from a Ph.D. in English will not provide you with the same results as a Ph.D. in meteorology.

Accuracy: Are there citations, footnotes or a bibliography? Can you track down where to find the source of the content? It’s never been easier to get information, create information and find misinformation than it is today. Sometimes this is easier to spot…McConnellAnonymous Wikipedia edit made from within Congress

But sometimes information can be presented as factual

raptured pets
And turn out to be a hoax! 

Purpose: Are you looking at a magazine (glossy, lots of photos and ads), newspaper (illustrations, ads usually with quoted sources) or journals (text heavy with few pictures or ads)? Are you looking at editorials within each of these types of sources? Who is the audience? Is the source trying to educate or entertain? Can you tell if the author is trying to sway your opinions and presenting the information in a biased way? Do you have a personal bias preventing you from critically thinking about the source? Think about the different purposes between a website like this from the American Dental Association and a website like this from Citizens for Safe Drinking Water.

<<return to the WR65 Instructional Session
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