2. Evaluation Criteria in Detail

1. Currency

  • When was the information published? If you need current information, a book or article published in the 1970’s will not be very useful.
  • When was the web page last updated, changed or edited? Websites that have not been changed for years may not be very reliable.
  • What is the pace of change in the subject? Certain subjects may have a slow pace of change, e.g., some Business theories have not changed since the 1940’s. Computer information, however, will change very quickly.
  • Could there be more up-to-date information available? The latest research may show new theories, e.g., electricity used to be thought of as a cure for baldness!
2. Relevance
  • Does the information help you complete your project or assignment? Check your topic again to make sure.
  • Is the language too simple, too advanced, or just right for your needs? If you can’t understand what the author is talking about, perhaps you can find another source.
3. Adequacy
  • Does the information provide an overview of your topic or does it focus only on part of your topic?
  • Does the information seem too basic to cover enough of your topic?
  • Does the source provide enough information on your topic? Or does it seem like something has been left out?
4. Reliability
  • Does the information support, add to, or update other sources you have found? Remember that you need to find enough sources to provide a variety of viewpoints.
  • Who is the author? Google him or her if you don’t know.
  • What are the author’s credentials?
  • Does the author have any training or experience?
  • Are you able to contact the author in some way?
  • Would the author’s ties with the publisher or sponsor result in biased information? e.g. writing about a product if the author is employed by the company that makes that product.
  • Is there a reference list or bibliography?
  • Is the information from a PRIMARY or SECONDARY source?
  • first-hand or eye-witness accounts
  • created at the time or near the time of the event
  • e.g. interviews, diaries, letters, speeches, photographs, film, art works, newspaper articles, articles with original research (i.e. never published before).
  •  works that describe, analyze, evaluate or summarize
  •  e.g. text books, reviews, biographies, historical film, articles based on original works.
  •  Does the information come from a scholarly journal or popular magazine?
  • popular or non-scholarly
  • scholarly (i.e. containing a serious detailed study of a subject)
  • author usually a journalist or professional writer, sometimes not even named
  • author usually an expert
  • often no references
  • references cited
  • often many colorful images & pictures
  • charts and tables
  • short easy-to-understand articles
  • longer articles with more jargon
  • goal is to entertain & inform
  • goal is scholarly communication
  • e.g. Chemical Engineering; DestinAsian; Edge; Fortune.
  • e.g. Asian Studies Review; Journal of Retailing; Learning, Media and Technology; VINE.
5. Accuracy
  • Are the sources used by the author clearly listed so you can find them and check the facts?
  • Is it clear who is ultimately responsible for the information? Note: even if a drug company hires a person to write something about a product they sell, the company is still ultimately responsible for that information.
  • Is the free information free of error? Can errors can be found with the spelling or with the facts?
  • Does the source support information previously found?
6. Objectivity
  • Can you see if the information is biased or not? Sometimes the bias can be hidden so you need to be careful.
  • Does the bias make the information less useful?
  • Is the language used free of emotion-arousing words and bias?
  • Is the point of view presented by the information balanced and consistent?
  • Watch out for opinion and bias, especially in newspaper articles.

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