When conducting research, we encounter information in many places and formats.
It is OUR job to evaluate the information we find to determine:
- WHAT is the source of the information
- IF and HOW we should utilize the information
Criteria for Evaluating Sources
Ask these questions to evaluate information and determine IF and HOW you will utilize the information.
|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.
2. Authority / Credibility
3. Purpose / Intent
5. Scope / Relevance
|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Some written works are ageless (e.g., classic literature) while others (e.g., technological news) become outdated quickly.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.
Primary vs Secondary Sources
When evaluating the quality of the information you are using, it is useful to identify if you are using a Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary source. By doing so, you will be able recognize if the author is reporting on his/her own first hand experiences, or relying on the views of others.
A primary source is a first-hand account by someone who experienced or witnessed an event. This original document has not been previously published or interpreted by anyone else.
A secondary source is one step removed from the primary original source. The author is reexamining, interpreting and forming conclusions based on the information that is conveyed in the primary source.
A tertiary source is further removed from primary source. It leads the researcher to a secondary source, rather than to the primary source.