EVALUATING RESOURCES

Ana E. Fontoura, Gill Library, College of New Rochelle, August 2006

 

As you do your research, you will find many kinds of resources in different formats – books, articles and Web sites for example.  Keep in mind that NOT ALL INFORMATION YOU FIND ON YOUR TOPIC IS APPROPRIATE for college-level research assignments.  Before you decide to use a source remember to consider the following:

 

 

          Points to Remember

          How do I interpret it?

ACCURACY

  • Who wrote it and can you contact him/her?
  • What is the purpose of the information and why was it produced?
  • Is the information written by someone qualified?
  • Is there a broad overview of the topic, or a focus on a specific area?

ACCURACY

  • Check to see if there is contact information for the author
  • Know the difference between author, editor, publisher and webmaster
  • A general overview of a topic doesn’t mean the author is an expert.

AUTHORITY

  • Who published the document?
  • Is the publisher a trustworthy or reputable?
  • If the information is from a Web site, what is the domain?
  • What are the author’s credentials?

AUTHORITY

  • Is the author an expert in the field?
  • Where is the document published? Academic publishers usually have high standards for publishing.  Commercial presses may be less trustworthy.

OBJECTIVITY

  • What are the goals and objectives of the author? 
  • Are the author’s opinions objective or partial?
  • Is all the information available or does the author present only that which supports his/her point of view?
  • If the information is from a Web site, are there links to other sites with different points of view?

OBJECTIVITY

  • Does the information sound like an advertisement?
  • Does the author use words that evoke emotions or prejudiced views?  What is his/her writing style?
  • Was the information written for a specific target audience?
  • Is the information fact or opinion?

CURRENCY

  • Is there more current information available in other sources?
  • Can you find similar information in the same time period?
  • If the information is from a Web site, when was the last time it was updated?  Are there “dead” links?

CURRENCY

  • There are fields of study that require very current information (sciences), but there are other areas where it may not be so important (history, philosophy)
  • Is the information dated?

 

COVERAGE

  • Is the information complete?
  • Does the author provide references or links to further information?
  • If the information is from a Web site, is it easy to navigate the information?

COVERAGE

  • Have other experts in the field reviewed the information? 
  • Is the information a primary or a secondary source?
  • Does the information add, update or validate other information you have read on the topic?

 

A note regarding the World Wide Web: 

 

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?  ASK A LIBRARIAN!  914-654-5342
OR GO TO:
http://www2.cnr.edu/home/library/ask.htm

 

Ana E. Fontoura, Gill Library, College of New Rochelle, August 2006