One thing that all college students need to learn, is not just how to find resources, but to evaluate the quality of a resource. Just because something appears in print or online does not mean it is a good resource. This little area is meant as a tool to help you think through the evaluation of any resource. Comments that are highlighted in yellow are especially important for web resources.
Currency - How old can your required information be?
- How current is the information?
- When was it published?
- When was it updated?
- Are the hyperlinks still working?
Relevance - Does this resource answer your question?
- Does it answer your question?
- Does it relate to your topic? How closely related?
- Who is the intended audience for this resource? Is it age appropriate?
- Does it use scholarly or technical language? Does it assume the reader is well educated in the discipline?
- Would this be something you would feel comfortable citing in your research?
- Have you examined other resources enough to determine that this is the best for you to use?
Authority - Who is the source of this information?
- Is this a personal page or website? Corporate? Publication of a society or conference? Academic journal?
- Who is the creator of this information? Can you check for a biography or "about us" for the creator?
- Are they an authority in this field? What makes them an authority? Degrees? Publications?
- Are they qualified in this field? A PhD in Biblical studies is not the doctor you want when your appendix bursts.
- Is there contact information to verify the information about the creator? E-mail? Address? Phone number?
- What does the cite domain reveal about its content or creator?
- .edu? .com? .gov? .org? .net?
Accuracy - Is the information correct?
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Are there citations or documentation to that evidence? Are there hyperlinks to other cites with evidence?
- Is there an explanation of the research methodology?
- Has the information been reviewed or refereed? (a peer reviewed article is sometime said to be refereed)
- Is there a way to confirm the information? Personal knowledge or check another source?
- Are there disproven theories present in the content?
- Are there spelling or grammar errors which might cast doubt on the quality of the information?
Purpose - Why was this information presented this way?
- What is the purpose of this information? Entertain? Sell? Persuade? or to inform?
- Is there a stated purpose by the creator of the content?
- Is the information presented as fact, opinion, or propaganda?
- Are various sides of an issue presented evenly?
- Is the language biased or objective in tone?
- Are there political, religious, cultural, ideological or personal biases present?
If your resource fails any of these criteria then either don't use the resource or be very careful with how you handle it and present its findings in your research.