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Evaluating Your Information
OK, so now you have a few resources that you might use for your assignment. It's time to take a close look at your information to make sure it is credible, reliable and useful. Ask yourself the following questions for each resource that you have found.
- Is it relevant to your topic?
- Is the date of publication appropriate?
- Is the author qualified? What are the writers' educational backgrounds and experiences?
- What is the author's purpose? To inform? To persuade? To sell? To advocate?
- How was the information obtained?
- Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda? Facts can usually be verified. Opinions may or may not evolve from facts.
- Are there references and/or footnotes?
- Is the work primary or secondary in nature?
- Who is the publisher or the institution responsible for the work?
- Is the work popular or scholarly?
Scholarly vs. Popular
A scholarly article*:
- Often undergoes a peer-review process prior to publication
- Provides footnotes or a Works Cited list (also called a Bibliography or Reference list)
- Has an author who is usually affiliated with an academic or research institution
- Is written by scholars for scholars in the field
- Reports on original research
- Uses the specialized language of the discipline
- Is often published by an academic, research or professional institution or association
- Has few, if any, coloured illustrations or ads
- Often contains graphs or charts
A popular (non-scholarly) article:
- Rarely provides footnotes or a Works Cited list
- Is written for the general public to entertain or provide basic information
- Reports on information second or third-hand
- Is usually short and uses simple language
- Is written by a staff writer, columnist or journalist, rarely by a scholar
- Does not state the qualifications of the author
- Is usually published by commercial enterprises
- Includes pictures, photographs and ads, and is slick in appearance
- Is not peer-reviewed
* A peer-reviewed article is always scholarly but a scholarly article does not always go through a peer-review process.