A major part of the research process includes evaluating the sources of information you locate in your searches. In other words, this step includes searching for relevant information sources and deciding whether to keep and include those sources for your research or discard them in favor of newer, more reliable, higher quality sources.
In fact, the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) has determined this to be a crucial stage in developing information literacy skills in their Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education: “Learners who are developing their information literate abilities critically evaluate contributions made by others in participatory information environments.”
While other schools, universities, and libraries may present slight variations or additions, generally it is agreed upon that the basic components of evaluation criteria include the following:
Consider the following when evaluating a source for bias:
When evaluating news sources, the media watchdog, FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting presents questions to consider when determining if a source is being objective or biased on their How to Detect Bias In News Media page.
Be sure to determine what types of information resources are required for your research needs. Review your assignment or research criteria:
Are you required to use original/primary research articles or is it acceptable to cite secondary articles that summarize or discuss research findings? See our Primary and Secondary Resources page.
Do you need scholarly journal articles? Must those articles be from peer-reviewed journals? See our Scholarly and Peer Reviewed Journals page.
Is it acceptable to use magazine or newspaper articles? See our page on Academic and Popular Resources.
The following resources provide criteria and tools for evaluating the quality of a research article:
Blevins, Dr. (n.d.). Checklist for evaluating a research report. Retrieved from http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/pe/exs514web/How2Evalarticles.htm
Mårtensson, P., Fors, U., Wallin, S., Zander, U., & Nilsson, G. H. (2016). Evaluating research: A multidisciplinary approach to assessing research practice and quality. Research Policy, 45(3), 593-603. doi://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2015.11.009
Oleson, K. & Arkin, R. (2006). Reviewing and evaluating a research article. In F. Leong & J. Austin The psychology research handbook: A guide for graduate students and research assistants (pp. 59-74). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781412976626.n4
Evaluating websites is, in many ways, very similar to evaluating traditional sources of information like books, journal articles, etc. However, because anyone can create a website, you will need to be more critical in your evaluation. Additionally, there are also special considerations, such as checking the website domain.
See our Website Evaluation page for a list of questions to use for determining the quality of websites and their content. You can also view our Website Evaluation Workshop. You may access the live workshop schedule here or view the recorded workshop below.
There is a lot of information on the Internet, but how can you tell the good from the bad? This workshop presents search engine tips, basics of website evaluation, and includes practice websites for you to evaluate.