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Evaluating information

Publishing and sharing information has become more accessible. Academics has put up a number of hurdles to tackle mis- and disinformation from spreading, such as peer review. However journals, books and authors can be biased or prejudiced. How can you judge whether or not a publication or an internet site is trustworthy? Here you will find some useful leads to help you judge information.

How do you evaluate information?

What is the difference between scholarly and popular sources? In scholarly articles and books written by academics you can find references, the research method and it has been reviewed by other experts in the field (peer-reviewed). 

In this tutorial you learn more about the difference between scholarly and popular material (source: UMKC Libraries).

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It is important to ask yourself a number of questions while reading a source, such as: who wrote the information? Why/when/where did they publish it and can you find references to other publications? This follows a technique called lateral reading, where you first consider the container of the text, before you look at the text itself.  For information found solely online there is an additional method, called the SIFT method. In many cases it will take about 30 seconds to quickly check whether for example a news report is true. You can read more about evaluating sources or analysing articles

This tutorial helps you to evaluate different kinds of sources (source: Newcastle University).

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Did you know that you can get help with doing research?

  • Ask your question online or call us.
  • Make an appointment to meet with a librarian and get help doing your research. Subject librarians can help you with: finding information, developing effective search strategies, searching the library catalogs and databases and evaluating information sources.
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