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University of Wollongong Australia

Literature Review: Evaluate

Evaluating information

The key to selecting appropriate information is having the ability to critically evaluate.

Evaluating information is about examining the information you find to decide if it is:

  • relevant for your information need
  • from a reliable source

Evaluating websites

Reliability

Strategies to help you determine reliability

Authority

  • Who is the author or creator?
    An authors background may reflect their personal, political or professional bias
  • What is the author's qualifications and experience?
    Knowing an author's credentials can help you decide whether they are a reliable source of information
  • Do other authors quote the work of the author?
    Frequent citations of a particular author may indicate his or her authority in their scholarly disciplinary field

Objectivity

  • Does the author present a balanced perspective?
    Are facts and arguments from all sides represented?
  • Is the bias of the author obvious?
    Are facts and arguments from only one side of an issue presented?
  • Is the source trying to convince you of a point of view?
  • Is the publication in which the information appears sponsored or endorsed by a political or other special interest group?

Accuracy

  • Is the information complete?
  • Is sufficient evidence provided to support the claim or position?
  • Are conclusions justified based upon the information presented?

Relevance

Strategies to help you determine relevance

Purpose and coverage

  • What is the aim of the item?
    To educate, inform or persuade?
  • Who is the intended audience?
    The general public, a professional, a scholar or a practitioner?
  • Is it appropriate to your information need?
    Too basic, too complex, too practical, too theoretical?
  • Is the source of information appropriate?
    Have you been asked to find a particular information source eg. a journal article?
  • Does it have geographical and/or ethnocentric limitations?
    Is it an Australian publication discussing only Australian issues?

Currency and timeliness

  • When was the information published or created?
  • Is the information up-to-date?
  • Does it discuss current issues and perspectives?