This module covers the basics of evaluating resources for authority, accuracy, and other criteria.
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The information available on websites is not always accurate or reliable because anyone can publish almost anything they wish online. In order to use websites for academic and research purposes, they must be approached critically. Below are questions grouped by category that will help when critiquing the credibility of an online resource.
Knowing the motive behind the page's creation can help you judge its content.
It is always important to consider whether the authors of what you are reading are properly qualified and present convincing arguments. Because your time for careful reading is limited, try to skim through your sources first to decide whether they are truly helpful. Once you have chosen your best sources, read the most relevant ones first, leaving the more tangential material aside to use as background information.
Learning to identify scholarly (often known as "peer-reviewed") and non-scholarly sources of information is an important skill to cultivate. Many databases provide help with making this distinction.
Additionally, Ulrich's Directory of Publications is a database that can be searched to check to check the publication type (scholarly, refereed, magazine, etc).
If you are using the internet for research, it is especially important to evaluate the accuracy and authority of the information you find there.
REMEMBER: If you are using the internet for research, it is especially important to evaluate the accuracy and authority of the information you find there. Search engines, like Google, find web sites of all levels of quality. Keep these things in mind when deciding if a web page is reliable and appropriate for your research:
Always check with your instructor to find out if you can use free (non-Library) web sites for your assignments. And if looking for journal articles, library databases are the most efficient tool for searching.