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Evaluating Information Sources

There are many devices you can use to evaluate the credibility of information.  One such tool is as easy as ABC ..

  • A

    Who is the author or creator of the information?

    What are her or his credentials?
    Is he or she an expert on this topic? 
    What else has this person written or created?
    Did the author or creator witness the event or phenomenon in person (primary source), are they writing based on information provided by others (secondary source), or are they summarizing existing literature (tertiary source)?
  • B

    What is the author's bias?

    What is the author's purpose in producing this information?
    Is this a balanced account of the events of phenomenon discussed?
    Do the words used by the author or the creator have a connotation that is intended to influence the audience?

     

  • C

    Examine the content for clues about the source's credibility.

    What is the format of the information - a social media post, a news report, a book, a journal article, etc?
    Who is the publisher of this piece?  Is it self-published? Can you discover who funded the writing or distribution of it?
    Does the source follow a standard presentation of information, like many peer-reviewed journals?
    What type of language is being used - technical language, jargon, or easy to understand?
  • D

    What is the date of publication?

    How close in time is the source to the event or phenomenon described?
    Has the piece been edited since its original publication?
    How recent should the information be in order to remain current in your field of study?

     

  • E

    What evidence does the author/creator provide to support her/his claims?

    Are there footnotes, endnotes, or citations to other publications?
    Can you locate sources of information or data?
    Can you replicate the methods the author used?
    Do the author's claims derive logically from the evidence presented?