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Finding and Evaluating Information: Evaluating Information

How to find and evaluate information for your classes and your life.

Evaluating Information

All information should be evaluated. This page gives tips on how to evaluate what you read.

Tips for Evaluating Information

Books, magazines and journal articles usually, but not always, have editors and fact checkers. Web sites often don't  have either.  Whatever your source, it never hurts to consider the reliability of any source you use.

Below are a few things to evaluate when looking at a source, to decide if it is creditable.

The Author.  Does the author have credibility?  Are they an expert, a scholar, a researcher in the field? Look for relevant degrees - a MD degree if the field is medicine, for example - and for information about the number of years they've worked in this area.

Accuracy. Does it agree with the other information you've read on the subject? Does the author cite their sources?

The Date of the Material.  When was the book or article published?  When was the web site last updated? Some areas change very quickly.  Books on the state of the stock market become outdated very quickly.  Books on history or etiquette usually take longer to become outdated. Consider how long it takes information to become outdated in the field.

The Publisher.  Who is responsible for publishing the material, or the web site?  Why does the site exist?  Is it set up by a company to sell a product or by an organization to inform the public?

The Appearance of the Material.  Is the book, article, or web site professionally presented?  Is it free of spelling errors and obvious errors in fact?  Professional appearance is not always a sign of credibility, but if the author has not taken the time to check for spelling or other errors, then it is possible that they have not checked or updated their facts, too.

 

Want More Information?

For other issues to consider, visit SKILL at Skagit Valley Community College, http://skill.library.skagit.edu/module3/tilt.htm , and work your way through Module 3 on Evaluating.