Skip to main content
Monmouth College Hewes Library

3a. Evaluation Criteria

Academic Research Resources

When conducting research, we encounter information in many places and in several types of packages. It is our job to evaluate the information we find using the criteria on this page arrow right to determine if we SHOULD utilize the information and HOW we might utilize it. View a helpful explaination of this process in the World of Information video in the 2nd box below. arrow down

World of Information (video)

Used with permission of University of Tennessee Chattanooga UTC Library (6:26 length). 

Criteria for Evaluating Sources

Ask these questions to evaluate the information you find, and determine IF and HOW you will utilize the information.

Criteria Questions to Ask
1. What is it?
Look at how information is packaged for clues about what it is and how it can be used.
  • Look for physical clues as to the origin of the information.
  • In what medium was the item created and distributed (print, electronic, artifact)?
  • How was the information published (or not)?
  • Is it a piece of a larger entity (chapter, article, webpage from a website)?

2. Authority / Credibility
Determining the author of a source is important in deciding whether information is credible. The author should show some evidence of being knowledgeable, reliable and truthful.

  • Who is the author (person, company, or organization)?
  • Can you describe the author's background (experience, education, knowledge)? 
  • Does the publisher specialize in certain subject areas of knowledge?
  • Does the author provide citations? Do other sources cite this source?

3. Purpose / Intent
Asking why information was created can help determine how (or if) it should be used for research.

  • Is the information fact or opinion?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What is the purpose or motive for the source (educational, commercial, entertainment, promotional, etc.)?
  • Identify possible bias of the author, publisher or sponsor.

4. Accuracy
The source should contain accurate and up-to-date information that can be verified by other sources.

  • Can facts or statistics be verified through another source?
  • Does the information seem accurate? Does it match the information found in other sources?

5. Scope / Relevance
It is important that the source meets the information needs and requirements of your research assignment.

  • Does the source cover your topic comprehensively or does it cover only one aspect?
  • To what extent does the source answer your research question?
  • Is the source considered popular or scholarly?
6. Currency / Date
Some written works are ageless (e.g., classic literature) while others (e.g., technological news) become outdated quickly. It is important to determine if currency is pertinent to your research.
  • When was the source written and published?
  • Is currency important to your research?

 

Hewes Library at Monmouth College | 700 East Broadway, Monmouth, IL 61462 | Phone: 309-457-2190 | Fax: 309-457-2226 | https://library.monmouthcollege.edu | reference@monmouthcollege.edu