Evaluating Information

Evaluating Information Sources

General Evaluation Critieria

Evaluation Tips for the Web

#1: PURPOSE

What is the author's goal? What is the purpose of the publication? To inform? To sell or advertise? To entertain?To persuade?

  • Look carefully for hints that reveal the site's purpose
  • Many sites are supported by advertising that might influence the content

#2: AUTHORITY

Who is the author and what are his or her qualifications? Who is the publisher?
  • It may be difficult to determine author's or publishers & their qualifications
  • Search for an author or organization's name in Proquest, a library catalog or on the Web
#3: ACCURACY Is the information accurate? How does it compare with other information?
  • Almost anyone can publish on the Web and this work may not be verified by editors or fact checkers
  • Find statistics from a variety of sources to confirm data
#4: OBJECTIVITY Is the information biased? Does it promote one perspective above others?
  • Goals/aims of persons or groups are often absent or unclear
  • Who is the intended audience? Watch for language or ads that attempt to persuade readers to a particular point of view
#5: CURRENCY Is the information recent enough for your needs?
  • Dates are sometimes absent or misleading on the Web
  • Determine if the date indicates when web pages were created, revised or posted
#6: COVERAGE Is the source complete enough for your needs? Is any information missing?
  • Often less in-depth than print or other media coverage
  • Web coverage may provide unique features not available elsewhere

Table source credit: Lynn Kanne, lynn.kanne@seattlecolleges.edu, Librarian, Seattle Central College

For other online references to evaluating information sources in general and on the web, see:

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