Why evaluate sources of information?
The temptation is to accept whatever is most convenient--looks related, found it quickly. Learning to critically evaluate your sources of information will not only help you succeed academically but also prepares you for a life of informed decision-making.
Critical evaluation also means learning to use accepted forms of public evidence rather than relying on what we've been told or on our own intuition.
Some guiding questions:
Who wrote it?
Can you tell the author's affiliation, background, intent, or perspective?
Who is the intended audience?
Is the piece intended for specialists or other scholars in their field, practitioners, the general public, or another targeted group?
What is the scope or coverage?
Is the resource meant to give a general overview, a foundational introduction, detailed investigation, cutting-edge update, or some other level of detail?
Why was it written or published?
Is it meant to inform, explain, entertain, or persuade? It it intended to be balanced, neutral, or controversial?
How current is it?
When was it published and/or last updated? Do you need the most current information for your project or do you need information contemporary to the subject of your project?
Where or by who was it published?
Does this individual or group have a particular role or agenda? If relevant, what is the source of their funding?
How is the information presented?
Are sources or evidence cited? Is there a bibliography, footnotes, or other specific citations?