Evaluate and select sources

In selecting your materials, you need to make sure they are good sources of information on which to base your findings. To do this, you need to consider several key factors in evaluating the information:
  1. Authority
  2. Currency
  3. Reliability
  4. Depth
  5. Objectivity
Authority
  • Who is the author?
  • What is their title / position? Credentials?
  • Are they a known expert in the field?
  • Do they quote other credible sources?
  • If it's a website, does the information have authority for its claims?
    • Does it link to an organisational affiliation?
    • Look for a header or footer identifying the sponsor or affiliation of the site eg the URL can provide source information http://www.fbi.gov
    • Check the domain - .edu .com .ac .gov .org .net

Currency
  • Is the information up-to-date enough for your purpose?
  • If it's a website, Is the page dated? When was it last updated?
  • Are the links within it current or expired?
Accuracy and reliability
  • Is the information factual, detailed, exact and comprehensive?
  • Is it credible, probable or possible?
  • Can the information be verified in other sources?
Depth
  • Is the information thoroughly researched and cover what you need?
Objectivity/Bias
  • Is the information balanced and objective?
  • Who is the intended audience? (academics, potential customers?)
  • Is there advertising on the page?
  • Is the language used designed to sway opinion?
  • Does the author have any connection to an organisation or institution that may influence their treatment of the topic?