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researchHOW - Information Literacy Toolbox: Evaluating Information

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Credo InfoLit: Evaluating Information


Evaluating Information

This module covers the basics of evaluating resources for authority, accuracy, and other criteria.

 Find learning objectives, standards addressed, discussion topics, & activity ideas here


  1. Introduction
  2. Video: What is Authority?
  3. Video: Evaluating Sources
  4. Tutorial: Evaluating Resources
  5. Tutorial: Choosing the Best Web Source
  6. Video: Objectivity in Reporting
  7. Quiz: Evaluating Information
  8. Instructor Guide 
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Evaluating results: is this right for me?

Questions to ask:


Relevance & Appropriateness

  1. Does this pertain to your topic?
  2. Is this important to your topic?
  3. Will this support your thesis?

Authority & Credibility

  1. Who is writing this?
  2. Are they qualified to write on this subject?

Accuracy & Verifiability

  1. Are there references to check validity?
  2. Is the data available on claims made?

Bias & Objectivity

  1. Is this author expressing their opinion as fact?
  2. Are they trying to sway your viewpoint?

Currency & Timeliness

  1. When was this written?
  2. Is the date of the information relational to the source?

Scope & Depth

  1. Does it have breadth? Broad in scope
  2. Does it have depth? Intense in scope

Intended Audience & Purpose

  1. Who is this written for?
  2. What are they accomplishing by writing this?

evaluate & decide

Most college-level assignments expect you to take a critical view of all your sources, not just those you may have found online.   

It is always important to consider whether the authors of what you are reading are properly qualified and present convincing arguments. Because your time for careful reading is limited, try to skim through your sources first to decide whether they are truly helpful. Once you have chosen your best sources, read the most relevant ones first, leaving the more tangential material aside to use as background information.

Learning to identify scholarly (often known as "peer-reviewed") and non-scholarly sources of information is an important skill to cultivate. Many databases provide help with making this distinction.

Additionally, Ulrich's Directory of Publications is a database that can be searched to check to check the publication type (scholarly, refereed, magazine, etc).

If you are using the internet for research, it is especially important to evaluate the accuracy and authority of the information you find there.

REMEMBER: If you are using the internet for research, it is especially important to evaluate the accuracy and authority of the information you find there. Search engines, like Google, find web sites of all levels of quality. Keep these things in mind when deciding if a web page is reliable and appropriate for your research:

  • authority/credibility
  • accuracy/verifiability
  • bias/objectivity
  • currency/timeliness
  • scope/depth
  • intended audience/purpose

Always check with your instructor to find out if you can use free (non-Library) web sites for your assignments. And if looking for journal articles, library databases are the most efficient tool for searching.