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STS.467: The History of Aviation: Evaluate Information

Library research resources and tips for STS.467, Spring 2014

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!: