Evaluating your Information
To help you decide whether you have the right information, which is relevant and from reliable sources, consider the following:
Do not accept information as reliable, when it can be amended/changed by anyone.
Do not just rely on one source – find several sources on the same topic.
S trategic Have a clear search strategy, decide what you need to look for.
Consider the relevance of the information you find based on your present needs, for example the context in which you are working and your current level of study.
E vidence Can you find any evidence that the information you have found is reliable? This can be difficult to assess, as information can be presented in many different ways.
Indicators of Reliable Sources:
Authors - Are you able to identify the author, or organisation?
Is the author an acknowledged expert in their subject area?
Has the author published other books or papers?
Has the authors work been cited in literature, produced by others in a particular subject/field?
Organisations – Does the organisation have a well established history?
What type of organisation are they?, for example research, statutory body, voluntary or a commercial company and is there a point of contact if you wanted to verify information or find out more?
A ccount Take into account the following when you identify information:
Is the information objective and balanced?
Beware of potential bias – hidden bias, whether deliberate or not can be misleading.
R eviews There are many reviews on the internet to look at. You will also come across systematic reviews and overviews.
Using reviews, systematic reviews and overviews you should be able to collect a large amount of research on your topic/question.
C urrent Is the information you have found current?
Is it clear when the information was produced?
Is the date of the information relevant to your requirements?
Is the information obsolete or has it been superseded?
H ow? How was your information produced?
Knowing how information has been published helps you to identify its reliability. Consider the following:
Anyone can publish information on the world wide web. This information should be judged on its own merit and with reference to the author’s credentials – quality is not guaranteed.
Most academic journals in print are peer reviewed. At least two experts have evaluated the information before publication.
e-Journals do not have a peer review process, so check the value of the information, using reviews and other points listed in SEARCH, above.
Evaluating Your Information .PDF Document and Templates can be found here: http://www.essentiallyeducation.co.uk/learning-research-and-organisational-skills/planning-your-search.html