Evaluating information

Evaluating your sources: knowing the good from the bad


Knowing if a source is going to useful for your research is an important skill to develop, especially when you are faced with a huge number of search results.

One of the most basic questions you can ask when deciding whether or not to use a source is, does the source add anything to your work? It’s important to realise that just because a piece of information is from an academic source, it doesn’t mean that it will be the right thing to use for your topic.

So remember that a quality source will be no good to you if it isn’t relevant to the point you are making. The context in which you are using the source, whether academic or popular, will be key!

Example:

Essay title: Discuss the influence of blogging on the fashion retail industry.

You will need to read examples of fashion blogs and reference them in your essay. A fashion blog would not normally be viewed as an academic source, but in this context you need to analyse some blogs to be able to write your essay.

You can then add depth to your essay by referring to academic research about topics such as marketing communications.

 

Quality sources

It is really important to think about the quality of your sources as well as their relevance.

Listen to "Clues to quality' which is a short excerpt from an interview with one of the library team about spotting clues to the quality of sources. A transcript is provided below if you'd prefer to read it.

 

Clues to quality audiobite

Audio file

Listen to the full interview 

Visit Library Sounds for all our audio 

Introducing the CRAAP test

 

Is it CRAAP?

The CRAAP test can provide a useful framework for reflecting on the quality of sources. Here are some questions to ask yourself about information you have found.

Currency

Is the information up-to-date? Does this matter?

Relevance

Does it relate well to your research area?

Authority

Who is the author or source? Are they credible?

Accuracy

Is it reliable, truthful, correct?

Purpose

Consider the reason it exists. Who is it aimed at? Why was it created?

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Thinking critically

To learn more about thinking and reading critically see:
• Thinking Critically
• Reading Critically
• Being critical of the digital world

Reflecting on sources

Question
Wed, 09/16/2020 - 09:27

Introduction to Digital Literacy

To find out more about why you need to be critical of online sources watch our Introduction to Digital Literacy Sway which includes a section on spotting misinformation online.