Evaluating information

When you are researching your assignment or essay, it is important to evaluate the content and quality of the information you have found, to make sure it is suitable.

You will need to think about the reliability of the sources you are getting your information from, and the following criteria should be included in your evaluation.

Currency

When was the information published?

For some assignments, research information must be as up to date as possible. Other assignments may need historical data.

Coverage

What information was collected? What audience is the information aimed at? Is the information too advanced, too basic or just right for your requirements?

Authority

Who collected the information? What are the author's credentials? What is the reputation of the publisher? Is it an academic publication or a more popular publication? These factors may influence the angle from which the article is written.

Accuracy

How consistent is the information when compared to other information sources?

Ensure that the information is correct and check that any statistics are accurate.

Objectivity

What was the purpose of the study? Who was the information being published for and why?

Nearly all information involves bias of some kind. This could be political or cultural. If a piece of research has been sponsored, this may introduce another kind of bias.

Is the information appropriate to your needs? Is the information suitable for your essay topic or research, or do you need to find some different information to complete your assignment?

Remember to be critical when evaluating your information. Not all the information you retrieve will be useful to you - some will need to be discarded.

Need more help?

If you are not finding the information you need, you may need to rethink your search strategy:

  • If the information is not relevant, think of other ways to define your search or rethink where you are searching for information.
  • If you are retrieving too much information, think of ways to narrow your search.
  • If you are getting too few results, you may need to broaden your search.
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