• Information-literate students are able to:
    • access information efficiently and effectively.
    • evaluate information critically and competently.
    • use information accurately and creatively.
    Anyone can publish on the Web.  Critical evaluation of information is vital in conducting research.  When you need to evaluate information you should look at:
     

    Accuracy

    • Accuracy can be difficult to judge unless you have a thorough understanding of the topic.
    • Does the author give supporting documentation for facts presented? 
    • Does the information contradict other reliable sources? 

    Audience

    • Information is published for an audience; who is the intended audience?
    • Audiences can include the general public, professional and/or practitioners, academics, and/or researchers.

    Authority

    • Who is the author and what are his/her qualifications?
    • Who is the publisher and what is the purpose of the site?
    Coverage
    • How extensive is your topic covered?
    • Try to determine the breadth and depth by looking at the amount of detail the information provides on your topic and its scope.

    Credibility

    • How credible or believable is the source?
    • Credentials: academic background, institutional affiliation, or previously published work.
    • Arguments: Are arguments for the author's point of view logical and well reasoned? 
    • Documentation: Are facts and arguments supported by references to existing scholarly literature by reputable authors? 

     Currency

    • You should try to ensure you are using the most up-to-date information available.
    • Depending on your subject area you may need to consult the most recently published material. This is especially true for law, science or technology subjects and other evolving disciplines.
    • Information may have been superseded by more recent information, or the information may have been refuted by other authors.

    Objectivity/Bias

    • Be aware of how the information you are consulting is being influenced by personal feelings or opinions when representing facts.
    • Does it represent multiple viewpoints?
    • Does the source seem to have a hidden agenda, or rigidly narrow point of view?
    • Does the source distort other points of view, or dismiss them out of hand? 
    • Does the source accept advertising? If so, does the advertising appear to bias the information?
    • Is there an conflict of interest? Does the source stand to profit financially from a particular point of view? 
     Purpose
    • Information has been written for a specific purpose.
    • Understanding why will tell you about its suitability for your research.

    Relevancy

    • Is the information relevant to your topic? 
    • During your initial search, explore broadly so that you won't exclude anything that you may later decide is important. 
    • As you progress in your research, you may find information that is current, reliable, and comes from an authoritative source, but not relevant for your specific information needs.