Evaluating Information Rubric

Here are general questions you should ask when evaluating print sources and websites.  More detailed questions below.

What to look for in books and periodicals

  • Currency: What is the publication date of the resource? 
  • Authority: Who is the author and publisher? 
  • Validity/Accuracy: Is the information accurate or valid?
  • Audience: Who was the resource written for? 
  • Point of view (bias): What is the resource's point of view?

What to look for in web sites

  • Currency: When was the website last updated?
  • Authority: Who is the author or creator?
  • Validity/Accuracy: Is the information accurate or valid?
  • Audience: Who was the website created for?
  • Point of view (bias): What is the website's point of view?

 

  What to look for in books and periodicals What to look for in Web sites

Currency

  • Does the paper/assignment require the most current information, historical information, or information over a period of time?
  • If you are researching a topic that is currently in the news, you may want only the most recent information. If you are researching a historical event, you may want information written at the time of the event.
  • For books: What is the copyright date on the reverse of the title page? Does it meet your needs? Is this the most recent edition?
  • For periodicals:  Does the publication date meet your needs? 
  • Does the paper/assignment require the most current information, historical information, or information over a period of time?
  • When was the Web site published or created? (look for a copyright date on the homepage)
  • When was the site last updated or revised?
  • Are the links up to date?

Authority

  • What are the author's credentials and reputation?
  • What other works on the subject has the author written?
  • Is the author an expert or researcher in the field? A government agency? A journalist?
  • Has the author been cited by your instructor? In other publications you've read?
  • Did you check biographical sources such as Contemporary Authors and Biographical and Genealogical Master Index in the E-Resource List ?
  • Who is supplying the information?
  • Is it an educational institution (.edu extension)? A government agency (.gov)? A commercial supplier (.com)? A non-profit organization (.org)?
  • Is the supplier a reputable organization? (look for an “About Us” link on the homepage)
  • Is there an author or contact person named? What are the author's credentials (see "What to look for in books and periodicals")?
  • Has this site been reviewed by experts or professional organizations?

Validity/Accuracy

  • If the information is not current, is it still accurate?
  • Can the information be verified or supported by other sources? Do other sources report the same findings?
  • Is evidence given to support the information?
  • Are sources of factual information cited?
  • Are sources of information cited?
  • Compared to other sources, is the information complete and accurate? Are the links also complete and accurate, or are there discrepancies?
  • Is selection criteria provided for the links found in the Web site?
  • Does the site appear to be carefully edited, or are there typographical errors? 

Audience

  • Who is the intended audience? Researchers or experts? Trade or professional members? The general public?
  • Is the source appropriate for your needs, or is it too technical, advanced or elementary?
  • Is the site appropriate for your needs, or is it too technical or too elementary, or too full of jargon?
  • Who is the intended audience? Experts or the general public? 

Point of view (bias)

  • Does the source have a particular bias?
  • Does it promote the ideas of a particular group--religious, political, etc.?
  • Is the information objective or partial?
  • Is it factual information or interpretations of facts?
  • Are there assumptions and opinions stated?
  • Does the information appear to be filtered or is it free from bias?
  • Could the organization sponsoring the site have a stake in how the information is presented?
  • Is the site free of advertisements?
  • Are various points of view, theories, techniques, or schools of thought offered?

Purpose/context

Is it for academic purposes or entertainment?
  • How closely does the book or journal relate to the purpose for which you need that information?
What is the purpose of the site or article?
  • Is it to share new, scholarly research?
  • is it to report developments in an evolving news story?
  • Or is it to rant about a government conspiracy? 
  • ​How closely does the web site relate to the purpose for which you need that information?

 

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