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Evaluating Information Sources  

Library Guide
Last Updated: Mar 15, 2017 URL: http://subjectguides.uwaterloo.ca/infosources Print Guide RSS Updates

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Why evaluate?

In your research you will come across many types of resources including books, articles and websites. You need to evaluate how appropriate these resources are for your research.

This guide helps you look at your sources critically by asking the right questions.

 

Evaluate information with RADAR

Keep these questions "on your radar". You may use this approach for evaluating any source of information.

R: Relevance

How is the information that you have found relevant to your assignment?

  • Does it relate to your topic or answer your research question?
  • Does it meet the requirements for the assignment?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the one you will use?

A: Authority

Who is the author/creator of the work? It may be a person, publisher, or an educational or professional organization.

  • Is the author known as expert in the field? 
  • Does the author work for a reputable institution, e.g. a university, research center or government?
  • Does anyone cite this author/work? Does the author rely on other well-cited works? 
  • Is there contact information, e.g. a publisher or email address?

D: Date

When was the information created? Is the publication date important to you?

  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • If older, is this a seminal or landmark work?
  • Are the links functional?

A: Accuracy

What clues can you get about the accuracy of the source?

  • Was the work published by a peer-reviewed journal, academic press or other reliable publisher?
  • Was the information reviewed by an editor or a subject expert before it was published?
  • Do the references support the author's argument? Are the references properly cited?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source?
  • Does the source look professional? Are there advertisements, typographical errors, or biased language?

R: Reason for writing

Why was this information created?

  • To produce a balanced, well-researched work that creates new knowledge?
  • Was it written as part of an ongoing debate, to counter an opposing claim?
  • Was it written in order to inform, sell, persuade, or entertain?

Adapted from:
Mandalios, J. (2013). RADAR: An approach for helping students evaluate Internet sources. Journal Of Information Science, 39, 470-478. doi:10.1177/0165551513478889

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