The ability to critically evaluate information before using it for a given purpose (such as a research assignment) is an essential lifelong skill that will allow you to make informed decisions in a variety of contexts.
Evaluating information is something most of us do all of the time, even if we don't realize it.
Think about a time when you needed to gather information in order to make an important decision (For example, perhaps you were planning to make an important purchase and you researched prices and product reviews. Or, perhaps you wanted to know whether or not it was safe to get vaccinated.)
It's likely that you applied your own evaluative criteria to the information you found in order to make your decision. In this guide, we'll build on these practices and learn how to critically evaluate information for academic research purposes.
Like a detective, you have to conduct an investigation whenever you're considering including information from a source in an assignment.
In order to know whether a source is reliable, trustworthy, and appropriate for your assignment, consider asking the following questions:
Authority - Does the author have expertise on this subject?
Accuracy - Is the information provided correct?
Purpose - Why was this information created?
Relevancy - Does this source meet my information needs?
Currency - Is this information up to date?
So, how can you go about answering these questions and determining whether or not your sources are credible?
Watch the video below for some helpful tips on how to investigate your sources:
Use the Critically Evaluating Sources Worksheet below to review the sources you've compiled so far for your research project. If your sources don't meet your criteria, you may want to revise your search and/or explore other library resources. Check in with your instructor or a librarian if you have any questions.
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