Evaluating Sources


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Learn how to identify what to look for when selecting resources; judge if information will be relevant for your assignments and recognise if a source is credible.

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Evaluating Sources

  1. 1. 1La Trobe University Evaluating Sources Image by Rochester Institute of Technology http://library.rit.edu/liv/6-1 CC BY 3.0 AU http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/ Use these slides to learn how to:  Identify what to look for when selecting resources  Judge if information will be relevant for your assignments  Recognise if a source is credible  Find more information
  2. 2. 2La Trobe University What to look for 1. Who is the publisher? 2. Who is the author? Are they a respected source? Ideally, try to use the best publishers for your subject area. Does the information come from an author or an organisation that has authority to speak on the topic? A newspaper or magazine written for the general public has less credibility than a journal written for scholars and experts. Do they cite their credentials? Credible authors usually state their qualifications and where they work. Does the publisher have a reputation for scholarly or popular publishing? Popular publishing is not necessarily bad, but the sources will not be as good as scholarly sources. Authors who are experts have more credibility than journalists, general writers or anonymous authors.
  3. 3. 3La Trobe University What to look for 3. What evidence does the author use to back up their arguments? 4. Is the information objective? What type of research have they performed or cited? Is the information presented with a bias? / Has the information been peer-reviewed? This is when other experts in the same field have said this research is good and worth publishing. You can still use sources that have a specific perspective, but be aware of both sides of the argument. Be sure there is enough documentation to help you decide whether the source is reliable. Look for footnotes, a bibliography, credits or quotations. How valid are the author’s conclusions? Are they based on personal opinion, interviews, research or experience?
  4. 4. 4La Trobe University What to look for 5. Timeliness 6. Point of view When was the information created or published? There should always be a date. What is the purpose of the information? Is it informative or trying to persuade people? Are all of the facts being presented? Is timeliness important for your topic? Does the research need to have been published recently? Has information been deliberately left out? Authors may do this to suit their argument, in which case they are not a reliable source. Some information will be valid over time, while other information may become obsolete or discredited by new research. What kind of language is being used? The writing should be objective, not emotionally charged or generalised. There shouldn’t be mistakes with grammar and spelling.
  5. 5. 5La Trobe University What to look for – Websites Use the same principles for evaluating websites as you would books and articles. Additional things to consider: Reliable websites usually have a more professional feel than unreliable websites – click on the examples to the right and see the difference. Broken links can mean no one is looking after the site and other information may be out of date. Note the web address and the type of institution publishing the information. They may give biased information that supports their perspective or agenda. Always check when a webpage was last updated. Is it up-to-date enough for your research? Domain identification help: Look for advertisements; this can mean that information is more commercial and potentially biased.
  6. 6. 6La Trobe University Need more information?  See the online tutorial on Evaluating Information Sources http://latrobe.libguides.com/evaluatingsources  See the online video What is a scholarly journal?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6WVJEXJj_o  See the online video Evaluating Sources http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-y9VzE2YTs  See the online video Why Can’t I Just Google? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N39mnu1Pkgw
  7. 7. 7La Trobe University