Whether the information you find is abundant or scanty, you need to evaluate it and select what is best for your paper. Just because the material you find is related to your research topic doesn’t mean it is a good resource or appropriate for your paper. Evaluating information is an important step in guiding you to choose what material to use and what not. Here are some basic criteria for evaluating sources.
Evaluation Criteria for All Sources
Authority – Who is the author? What is the author’s credential in the related field? Is the publisher well-known in the field? Is the material subjected to editorial review?
Comprehensiveness – Is the topic discussed briefly or in detail? Is there new information provided?
Reliability – Can the information be verified? Are sources cited? Is the information factual or opinion based? Is the information biased?
Currency – When is the information published? Is the source out-of-date for the topic? Are there new discoveries or important events since the publication date?
Relevancy – How is the information related to your argument? Is the information too advanced or too elementary? Who is the target audience? Is the audience focus appropriate for a research paper?
Most information published on the Web does not go through an editorial process. It is very important to evaluate Internet resources before you use the information in your paper. This “How to Evaluate Internet Information” handout shows you how to evaluate Web resources.