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SWO 5322 & SWO 4322 Social Policy for Social Work Practice: Evaluating Information

Evaluating Information

from the "Introduction to Library Research Guide...

  • Credibility
    • Who is the author of the material? What are the author's credentials?
    • Is the author considered an expert in the field in which he or she writes?
    • What is the author's reputation among his or her peers? What else has the author written?
    • Who is the publisher of the material? Is that publisher well-known?
  • Bias
    • Is the information presented in an objective manner? Are all sides of the issue presented? If not, can you determine the side of the issue the author takes?
    • Does the author acknowledge a bias? Is there any inflammatory language in the material?
    • Does the author verify statements with facts and cite his or her sources?
    • Does the publisher stand to benefit from any research published (i.e. a drug company funding a study on its own products)?
  • Accuracy
    • Does the author cite his or her sources?
    • Does the material provide a description of its research methods?
    • Does the information contradict other published information?
  • Currency
    • When was the material published? Does this work have a more current edition or update?
    • Does your topic require more up-to-date information (i.e. is it a scientific or medical topic or about a current event?
  • Relevance
    • Does the information add to the topic you are writing about, or is it peripheral to your discussion?
    • Is the information significant and valuable, or trival and common knowledge?
    • Does the material provide references which will also be useful?

Information Timeline

Note: If your topic is a "hot button" issue, a relatively new occurrence, or recently in the news, it may be difficult to find scholarly articles and books on your topic.  The Information Timeline, see below, will provide some guidance.

a chart distinguishing popular trade scholarly sources


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