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Evaluate Information: Overview

Tips on critical thinking about information sources

Scholarly information

Scholary information is typically:

  • published in academic or professional journals
  • published in other sources, such as theses, technical reports, and books
  • written by and for professionals in a particular field or discipline
  • peer-reviewed by other professionals in the field to check for originality, accuracy, and sound research methods
  • well-researched and includes a detailed bibliography or reference list of other sources used in the research process  

Why evaluate?

Evaluating information is an important step in the research process, but one that is frequently overlooked.  It's important to evaluate information of any type because:

  • Information is published by a wide variety of authors, some with a solid background in the field they publish in, and some without.
  • Some information sources are vetted or reviewed before publication, but some are not (especially on the free web).
  • Information is easy to find - printed in books, magazines and on the web; heard on the radio or tv; discussed in class or among friends - and you can be easily overwhelmed by all of it.
  • Your professors expect you to find scholarly information for class assignments, but not all information is deemed scholarly, so you should be critical of it.

Evaluating information means that you read the book chapter, article or web page thoroughly, and think critically about it.  Ask yourself why it was published, who wrote and published it, when it was written and how it pertains to your research question.

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