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How do I know if the Information I find is reliable?
Read information you find with a critical eye! Consider these points when evaluating web sites, articles and books:
- Who wrote 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?
- that the author's name is given
- where the author works - the author's affiliation
- who published the article
- 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
- Do the conclusions in the paper seem justified? Do the conclusions make sense - i.e., would you feel comfortable drawing the same conclusions?
- While you may not feel qualified to judge research in areas that are unfamiliar, evaluating a research paper involves little more than being critical of what you read and using a little common sense.
- Where's the information from? (see "Who?")
- the type of journal the article is published in or the reputation of the newspaper
- if the work was done by the author ("primary" source)
- if the author is summarizing others' work ("secondary" source) - if so, are the sources cited (i.e. footnotes and/or a bibliography)?
- if statistics are given, is the source named?
- How old is the information?
- Is it too old to be useful (this can vary, depending on the area & type of information)?
- when was the article written?
- when was a web page last updated?
- is it possible that there are newer statistics?
For more information about evaluating information, see the following web pages or Ask Us!: