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FRE 350 L'École Perdue

Evaluating information sources - The Basics

What does the title tell you about the content?

  • Look at the title of the book, journal, article, website, or the URL.
  • A resource can have a great title but then be full of tangential ideas or not be related to your research – or vice versa – look deeper.

Can you find information about the author?

  • Is the author named?
  • Does the author have expertise on the subject?
  • What are his/her qualifications? Look for information in the resource.
  • Use Google or Google Scholar to find evidence of research on the same subject by the author.
  • Is there contact information on a website?

What is the date? Is there a date?

  • How current is the resource?
  • Is it important that the information be current?
  • Is there a date of the last update on a website?

Who is the intended audience?

  • Is the language simple or technical? Is it scholarly?
  • Use Google to find information about a publication.

How relevant is the resource?

  • What is the resource about?
    • For a book, check the table of contents and the index.
    • For an article, read the abstract, summary, and conclusion.
    • For a website, check the home page for clues.
  • Is the subject applicable to your research?

How objective is the content?

  • What is the author’s point of view?
  • Is the resource well-researched and detailed?
  • Or is it biased?
  • Is the information the author’s opinion or supported by facts?
  • Are there advertisements or items for sale?

Does the author document his or her sources?

  • Are there references, citations or related sources of information?
  • Are there footnotes?