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University of Wollongong Australia

Literature Review: Evaluate

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?

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?

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

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