HI 2353: History of the Life Sciences

Evaluating Information

When you find a new source of information (such as a web page, 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? 

Activity: Would you use these websites?

Take a look at each of the websites listed below. As you examine each website, consider the following questions:

  • Would you use this website in your research project?
    • If not, why not?
    • If yes, how would you use it? Would you use it to find background information and keywords related to your topic? Would you cite this web site in your project?