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Research Tools: Evaluating Resources

Advice on Evaluating Sources

There are many different ways to evaluate sources and different
types of information require different evaluation categories. 
For example, you wouldn't evaluate a primary source you were
using in your History research task the same way that you would
evaluate a historian talking about the event afterward. 

Therefore, your Teacher Librarians have sorted through the various
methods of evaluation and list the ones we recommend below. 

Evaluating a Resource

The criteria to evaluate a resource: Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose and Bias.

How to Evaluate General Websites

The following guide is by Kathy Schrock:

THE FIVE W’S OF WEB SITE EVALUATION

WHO
Who wrote the pages and are they an expert?
Is a biography of the author included?
How can I find out more about the author?

WHAT
What does the author say is the purpose of the site?
What else might the author have in mind for the site?
What makes the site easy to use?
What information is included and does this
information differ from other sites?

WHEN
When was the site created?
When was the site last updated?

WHERE
Where does the information come from?
Where can I look to find out more about
the sponsor of the site?

WHY
Why is this information useful for my purpose?
Why should I use this information?
Why is this page better than another?

Handout here.

For Teachers

Kathy Schrock's Critial Evaluation Resources

Facts, Opinions and Reasoned Judgements / Arguments

Quick Tips

Ask Yourself:

1.  Who is the organisation behind the information?

2.  Is there an identifiable author?

3.  Can I find this information in two other reliable websites or books? 
     Cross-reference your information!

4.  When was this information last updated?


RESEARCH TIP! Ensure the information you are looking at is from a reliable source and is current. 

Look for information that is from the following:

  • A government website .gov
  • A Scientific website
  • An educational website .edu

Beware of information from forums and websites where people without qualifications are presenting information. E.g. Wikianswers.org, Yahoo!Answers, and Wikipedia. 

Annotated Bibliography

Instructions: 

  • Clear and concise annotation bibliography (Comment on the WHY you consider the resource to be reliable)

 

What makes a resource reliable?

  • WHO? From a reputable / reliable / authoritative source, e.g.  the government, a university, an expert in the area. Can you identify the author?
  • WHY? Try to determine the purpose behind the website: Is it to educate? To sell?

Example:

 

Bibliography

Jones, A. (2010). The story of beginnings. Melbourne: Randon House Publishing.

This is a reliable source because firstly it is published in a book and secondly, because the author is an expert in the area of Modern History.

 

Maxillian, A. (2013, May 10). Australian History in 1960s. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from Australian History: http://www.australianhistory.edu.au

This is a reliable source because it is produced for educational purposes as indicated by the .edu in the URL.