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Evaluating Resources, how-to guide

Video from: OSLIS Secondary Videos/2016/CC license

Be a sceptic!

Websites can be a good source of information, but you need to evaluate everything you read very carefully. There are people out there who will try to fool you or sway you toward their own opinions without enough evidence to back up their claims. Ask yourself, What, Who, Why and When. And make sure to question your own biases as well. It is easy to find sources on the internet that back up our own beliefs, which is not always a good thing since we need to know about multiple aspects of an issue to form an opinion based on evidence.

What: 

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Who:

  • Who wrote the website?
  • Is there a bias to the information given?
  • Is it a personal website or is it hosted by an organisation?
  • Are contact details given?
  • Are they an expert in their field?
  • What are their credentials?

Why: 

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

When:

  • Currency (how up to date is the information provided)
  • Is a publication date given? 
  • Has the information been updated recently?
  • Do the links work?
  • Is the information up to date enough for your purposes?