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Things to Consider
- Is there an identified author or editor of the book, website or article?
- Are the author's credentials stated?
- Is the author an expert in his or her field?
- Has the author or resource been cited elsewhere?
- Is the book/article/website published by a credible, unbiased source?
- How current is the information?
- Is the information timely in relation to the content?
- Is a newer edition of the book or article available?
- When was the last time the website was updated?
- What time periods are covered?
- Is the information factual, opinion-based or propaganda?
- Is the information well-researched?
- Are references clearly cited and stated?
- Does the author use an impartial tone in his or her writing?
- Is there a commercial or organizational interest associated with the resource?
- Are misleading or deceptive arguments used (scare tactics, oversimplification, testimonials, etc.)?
- Is the resource directed to a scholarly or popular audience?
- Is the writing clear, concise and arranged logically? Are the main points presented clearly?
- Is the information presented verifiable and accurate?
- Is the information complete?
- How complete and thorough is the coverage of the information presented?
- Does the work update existing information, support other information or add new information to the field?
- Is the resource primary (written by the researcher or based on a first-hand account) or secondary (reporting on others' research)?
- Is the content too broad or narrow for your needs?
- Does the content support your thesis statement?
- Does the resource provide original content, or is it a bibliography, index, directory or collection of links?
Scholarly vs. Popular Audiences
- Is typically serious in tone and earnest in appearance
- Will always cite sources and provide references
- Is written by professionals, researchers and experts in a particular field
- Uses language appropriate to the discipline and assumes the reader is already familiar with background information
- Is sponsored by universities and other educational institutions as well as professional, nonprofit associations
- Is intended to provide original research
- Comprises lengthier documents that provide in-depth coverage and analysis of a topic
- Often contains charts and graphs rather than illustrations or images
- Is written with general readers in mind and usually has a more attractive appearance
- Rarely cites sources and often reports second- or third-hand information
- Is usually written by staff writers, reporters or freelance journalists, not experts
- Contains nontechnical, introductory information
- Can be sponsored by corporate or nonprofit organizations
- Uses language that is easy to understand
- Is usually presented as a short, broad overview of a topic
- Can be heavily illustrated or contain advertisements
Evaluating Web Resources