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Evaluating Information: 5 Key Points

This guide will help you assess the quality, accuracy and reliability of the information you locate to support your assignments and research.

Authority

Is it clear to you at a glance:

  • Who wrote the page i.e. where is the information coming from? 
  • What is the affiliation of the author(s), e.g., to an organisation, company or educational institution?
  • If sponsorship is clearly evident on the page?

TIP: Look for an “about” or “who we are” button to find out more about the author(s).

Accuracy

Is it clear to you at a glance:

  • That the information is correct?
  • That you can easily verify the information on the website using another source?
  • That the author is qualified to write about this topic?
  • That references to other sources backing up the author’s claims are clearly given?

TIP: Using Google’s advanced search function to discover which websites link to this website can often be a useful indicator of the accuracy of the information found there.

Objectivity

Is the purpose of the website to:

  • Inform you?
  • Advocate a particular argument in favour of an issue?
  • Sell or promote something?
  • Provide you with news, or is it just someone’s personal website?

TIP: The letters at the end of a web address, or URL, will give you a clue as to the kind of site it is, e.g. .com = commercial, .edu or .ac.uk = educational.

Content

Is it clear to you at a glance:

  • That the level of detail in the information is suitable for your purpose?
  • That the information on the site is well presented?
  • That the information on the site increases your understanding and is not just a list of links?

TIP: Compare to other sites on the same topic to assess the quality of the coverage.

Currency

Is it clear to you at a glance:

  • When the website was last updated – is there a “last created” or “last updated” date clearly visible?
  • That the links provided by the author are live?
  • That there are no dead links on the page, a sign that the site is checked regularly?

TIP: Read the website for references to recent dates which shows that the content is up to date.

 

Critical Thinking Tutorial

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