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Evaluating Information

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  • Is not peer-reviewed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.

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