- Does the work provide sufficient content?
Book: Entire book or complete chapter vs. only a brief mention? Actual book vs. just a review?
Article/Web: How many pages? Is your topic a major focus, or just briefly mentioned?
- Who is the intended audience for the information?
Currency / Timeliness
- Does the work you want to use provide a date created or updated?
- Information posted to the web can sit there indefinitely. Information that was once accurate may no longer be accurate after years have passed.
- Is currency of information important for your topic?
- Does the work contain broken links or cite out-of-date references?
Authority / Credibility
- Who is the author? What are their credentials? Search the source or homepage of a site for information on the author. Search a relevant database to see whether they have published anything in their field. Try Google. Can you find any contact information?
- What organization is responsible for the work/site? What is its background and mission? Look for an “About Us” or FAQ link for more information. If they are not a well established organization of which you are aware, look them up elsewhere.
- Look at the URL. Is the site commercial (.com), non-profit (.org), educational (.edu), governmental (.gov), or a personal page (look for a tilde (~) in the URL) hosted by a larger entity that is not directly responsible for the content?
- Does the work address the specific research question?
Accuracy / Reliability
- Does the work/site look professional? Well organized and formatted? Easy to navigate? Table of contents or search box? Link to the home page? No busy animated graphics?
- Are there any errors – spelling, typographical or broken links?
- Can you verify the information? Are sources clearly cited? Are they quality sources?
- Is research methodology clearly explained? Statistical data organized and labeled?
Bias / Objectivity
- Is the information provided intended to influence your thinking?
- Is the author’s purpose or point of view clearly stated? Can you detect any bias?
- Does the host organization have an agenda (commercial, political or philosophical)?
- Is any advertising distinct from informational content?
- Biased information is not necessarily without value. Just be sure to understand the bias.
- Is the journal you are looking at peer reviewed? Is this website known for fake news? Is this book written for a commercial or a scholarly audience? This tool allows you to enter information about a website, periodical (journals & magazines), or book and will return data that will help you assess its value to your research.