Evaluating information

Critically evaluating information that you find to use for your assignments is essential for academic success. To judge if a source is worth using the following criteria can help:

Relevancy

  • Is the information useful and does it support your work?
  • Does it cover your topic in enough depth and scope? e.g. Geography i.e. Australian? International?
  • Does it meet your needs? - i.e. is it peer-reviewed if you are required to use a peer-reviewed journal?

Currency

  • Is it up-to-date? Does it need to be?
  • When was it published, or last updated (webpage)?

Authority

  • Who is the author? Are they known in their field? Are they associated with reputable organisations? e.g. a university or official body
  • For a webpage:
    • is the author noted or is the organisation well known? e.g. government agency?
    • do the links work? Does the site look well maintained?
  • Is there advertising alongside the information?
  • Is the work fact, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Is there disclosure of author affiliations, or funding for the research or study?

Accuracy

  • Is it supported by reliable facts or statistics? References?
  • Look at the URL for webpages. Is the site commercial (.com), government (.gov) or educational (.edu)?

Objectivity

  • Does it contain extreme viewpoints? Is it biased?
  • Does it contain emotive or derogatory language?