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How do I know that the information I've found is reliable?
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Read information you find with a critical eye! Consider these
points when evaluating books, articles and web sites:
it? What ideas is the author trying to promote? Does the author seem to
favor one idea over another? Could this affect the conclusions drawn?
the author's name is given
the author works - the author's affiliation
- who published
- the type
of journal in which the article is published (hint: most scholarly research
appears in journals that are refereed or reviewed by peers - sometimes
called "peer reviewed" journals)
- the reputation
of the newspaper in which the article is published (is it from the Washington
Post or the National Enquirer?)
- Do the
conclusions in the paper seem justified? Does the research make sense
- i.e. if you were conducting this research, would you feel comfortable
drawing the same conclusions based on the results?
you may not feel qualified to judge research in areas that are unfamiliar
to you, read critically and take time to reflect using your common sense.
is the cultural, historical or economic context of what you are reading?
about what is not being said as well as what is being said.
the information from? (see "Who?")
- the type
of journal the article is published in or the reputation of the newspaper
the research was done by the author ("primary" source), or
whether he is summarizing others' research ("secondary" source)
- if the
author is summarizing, are the sources cited (i.e. footnotes and/or
- if statistics
are given, is the source named?
is the information? Is it too old to be useful (this can vary, depending
on the subject area and type of information!)?
is the copyright date of the book?
was the article written?
was a web page last updated?
- is it
possible that there are newer statistics?
information about evaluating information, see the following web pages
or ask a librarian
for some guidance:
Evaluation of Resources from UC Berkeley Library
on the Net by Hope Tillman
Prepared for the
Jean and Alexander Heard Library,
We would like to express our sincere appreciation
to MIT Libraries
for granting permission
to modify and use their "Information Navigator" tutorial.