When you first get to an information source STOP and ask yourself:
Do you know that website? Do you know its reputation?
If not, use the other steps to figure out what you're looking at.
If you find yourself going off on tangents and getting overwhelmed, STOP and remember what your purpose was. Are you look for a quick and shallow overview of a topic or are you trying to chase down each individual claim in a source? Both can have value in different contexts. Use this moment to refocus on your original task.
Figuring out the expertise of the person/group making the argument and determining the agenda behind that argument is the key to understanding what a source is trying to convey and why they are making the arguments they are making.
Take a minute to find out where the creator is coming from to decide if the information they are providing is worth your time.
Sometimes you need to know if a claim is true or false. To do this you may need to ignore the source and find trusted research and analysis to independently verify the claims being made. This could be as easy as checking a library database or reference source to verify, or doing a Google News check to see what the consensus of the community is on the topic.
A lot of the information you will find contains evidence that is out of its original context. Sometimes summarizing or clipping videos and quotes is done with accurate representation, but perhaps it has created a misleading argument. Tracing information back to its original source will let you recontextualize the material to establish if the source you found was accurate.
Evaluating Web Pages by UC Berkeley
|CRITERIA||Question 1||Question 2||Question 3|
|Source||Is it clear who the author of the page is?||Is there contact information present?||What is the source of content? Books? Other web sites?|
|Currency||When is the last revised or updated date?||Is it clear what is new content?||Are there a lot of "dead" or moved links?|
|Scope||What range of topics are covered?||Who is the intended audience? Age/grade levels?||Is the focus comprehensive or narrow?|
|Content||Is there a clear motivation/bias?||Is the information given similar to print?||Are references or sources given?|
|Authority||What is the expertise of the author?||Who is the sponsor of the site?||Is the domain name ".edu"? ".org"? ".com"?|
|Author||researchers, scholars and experts||people in field, specialized journalists||journalists|
|Length||longer, in-depth articles||some lengthy, mostly shorter articles||short, a few pages at the most|
|Language||uses vocabulary of the discipline||uses the jargon of the field||simple, general vocabulary|
|Publisher||university & scholarly presses, professional organizations||professional organizations and trade publishers||commercial and trade publishers|
|Sources||footnotes & bibliographies always included||usually cited, but not as extensive||generally not cited|
|Graphics||charts, tables, almost no advertisements||some illustrations & ads related to the profession||lots of photographs and advertisements|
|Intended Value||to share original research with the academic community and other scholars||trends, news and information for the field||current events, news, popular culture, and entertainment|
|Examples||Foreign Affairs, Journal of Educational Psychology, American Economic Review||Farm Industry News, HR Magazine, Automotive News, Library Journal, Franchise Times||Time, Newsweek, People, US News & World Report|
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Science Library: 317-940-9937