This section is duplicated with permission from The San Diego State University Library.
Once you have found information that matches the topic and requirements of your research, you should analyze or evaluate these information sources. Evaluating information encourages you to think critically about the reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, point of view or bias of information sources.
Just because a book, article, or website matches your search criteria and thus seems, at face value, to be relevant to your research, does not mean that it is necessarily a reliable source of information.
It is important to remember that sources of information comprising the Library’s print and electronic collections have already been evaluated for inclusion among the Library’s resources. However, this does not necessarily mean that these sources are relevant to your research.
This does not necessarily apply to sources of information on the Web for the general public. Many of us with Internet/Web accounts are potential publishers of websites; most of this content is published without editorial review. Think about it. Many resources are available to help with evaluating web pages.
What criteria should you use to judge information sources?
Initially, look at the author, title, publisher, and date of publication. This information can be found in the bibliographic citation and can be determined even before you have the physical item in hand.
Next, look at the content, e.g. intended audience, objectiveness of the writing, coverage, writing style, and, if available, evaluative reviews.
The following questions should be asked:
Who is the author (may be individual or organization) and/or publisher?
What can be said about the content, context, style, structure, completeness and accuracy of the information provided by the source?
When was the information published?
Where else can the information provided by the source be found?
Why was the information provided by the source published?