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Evaluating Information Sources: Overview

Tips for evaluating print and online information sources.

How to Use This Guide

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This guide will provide tips to help you evaluate the information you find during the course of your research. 

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Why Evaluate?

Locating information, whether in traditional print format or in electronic format, is only the first step in doing research. The next step is to evaluate the quality and the usefulness of what you find.

When using websites, the evaluation process is more important than ever since anyone who has an account on a computer linked to the Internet can put up a website. They don't have to be intelligent or knowledgeable, scholarly or authoritative, and in most cases, the "information" they put on these pages does not have to pass any kind of scrutiny or editing process.

Many institutional and organizational websites include statements about the types and sources of information that is provided on their sites, as well as the purpose of the organization itself. If this information is not offered, be especially careful about evaluating the data you find there.

When evaluating printed texts or electronic documents, consider the following criteria:

Currency  ||  Relevance  ||  Authority  ||  Accuracy  ||  Objectivity

The CRAAP Test

This handout from the Meriam Library at Chico State will give you a brief overview on evaluating the Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose of your sources!

More Resources

Because anyone can post anything on the Web and there is no quality control, it is important to evaluate any website you may use in your research. The following sites can help you evaluate the accuracy, reliability, and currency of information in general, and Internet sources in particular.

Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask, from UC Berkeley.

Evaluating Sources, both print and Internet, from the Purdue OWL.