Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ENV 4V90 Advanced Individual Research Problems: Home

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?

Popular / Trade / Scholarly

Authors Journalists, staff writers, popular authors, or it may not be listed Staff writers and experts in the field Researchers and experts
Audience The general public Members of an industry, trade or profession Researchers and experts
Documentation Sources are usually not cited Sources may be cited Sources are always cited
Content General interest, news or entertaining stories Current trends, standards and new technology in a profession Original research findings, scholarly reports, methodology and theory
Language Broad, simple language that anyone can understand Jargon that assumes expertise in the field Jargon that assumes expertise in the field
Publisher Commercial organizations Associations Associations or Universities
Appearance Glossy paper, advertisements, heavily illustrated in color Glossy paper, Advertisements (most are trade-related) moderately illustrated in color Plain paper, few or no advertisements (only academic-related), charts and graphs and some illustrations in black and white
Review Policy Reviewed by editors Reviewed by editors Reviewed by peers and experts in the field. The editorial board is made up of distinguished scholars.
Examples Newsweek, Economist, Psychology Today, Cooking Light

Advertising Age, Publisher's Weekly, Chemical and Engineering News

Chemical and Engineering News
Journal of the American Medical Association, Journal of Southern History, Journal of Modern Literature, Annual Review of Biochemistry

Journal of the American Medical Association

Source: Popular, Trade & Scholarly Journals Guide

Information Timeline