HU 3900: Inquiry Seminar - Media Revolutions in History

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Evaluating Information

When you find a new source of information (such as an online article, a news story, a scholarly journal article, or a book), ask yourself the following questions about the source: 

Who?

Who is the author, editor, or creator? Is the author qualified to write about this topic?

What?

What type of document is it? For example, is it a newspaper article? A blog? A government website? A scholarly article? A book?

What is it about?

When?

When was this source published? Is the information up-to-date? 

Where?

Where did you find the source? A library database? A website?

For websites, what is the URL ending? For example, .com? .gov? .org? .edu?

Why?

What was the goal of the author or publisher? Is there bias?

How?

How did the author gather data and information? Did the author include citations? Did the author derive reasonable conclusions from the research?

The answers to these questions will help you to answer the big picture questions about the source:

  • Credibility: Is the source reliable?  
  • Relevance: Does the source suit your research needs? 

Website Evaluation Activity

Take a look at the following websites, and consider the following:

  • What can you learn about the organization who published the website?
  • Would you use this website in your research? Why or why not?
  • Would you use this website for background information?
  • Would you use this website to find sources for your research?
  • Would you cite this website in your paper?