Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

MIT Libraries logo MIT Libraries

Massaschusetts Institute of Technology logo Search Account

21H.351: Shanghai and China’s Modernization, 1840-2010: Evaluate Information

Library research resources and tips for 21H.351, Spring 2013

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:

Question Check:
  • 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 (is it from the Washington Post or the National Enquirer?)
  • 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!: