Library

Evaluating Information

There is a lot of information on the Web, but the quality can vary greatly. This list of questions may help you determine what resources are most appropriate for course-related research.

Authority

  • Who is the author?
  • What makes her/him an authority on the subject?
  • What experience or credentials are listed for the author?
  • Is she/he affiliated with a reputable organization?
  • If an educational background is given, are the educational institutions accredited?
  • Is there contact information for the author (i.e., an address or phone number)?

Currency

  • What publication or broadcast date is associated with the information?
  • Is some of the information obviously out of date?
  • Are you evaluating a website with a number of broken links?

Objectivity

  • Is the information biased towards a particular viewpoint without supporting evidence?
  • Is a religious, cultural, or special interest group publishing the information to push their beliefs?
  • Is the presenter selling something (a product or an idea)?
  • Does the information come from a website with an address that ends with .com or .biz?
  • If it is on the Internet, do you have to enter personal information or a credit card number in order to proceed?

Coverage

  • How relevant is the material to your research
  • Does the author attempt an in-depth exploration of her/his main idea?
  • Is this information only part of a more comprehensive source?  If so, who abridged it and why?

Accuracy

  • Does the author clearly support his or her ideas by citing information from other sources?
  • Is there a bibliography of sources cited or consulted?  Do these sources seem reasonable?
  • Are the citations in the work and the bibliography complete enough to find the original source?
  • Does the information make sense compared to what you already know?
  • Have you checked the facts with other sources known to be accurate?

By using the library’s resources, you can save time, energy, and money.  It is always necessary to consider authority, currency, objectivity, coverage, and accuracy issues when approaching information.  However, you can be assured that the Sister Mary Joseph Cunningham Library strives to provide information that is authoritative, accurate, and (with very limited exceptions) free.  The print and electronic materials we provide require less rigorous evaluation than any you will find through popular Internet search engines.

Please contact our reference desk in person or by phone at (732) 987-2422 for assistance with your information needs.

 

Created by: Sister Mary Joseph Cunningham Library, May 2008


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