Once you have found some interesting sources to use in your research, it's important that you evaluate each of them. This means deciding whether they are trustworthy, reliable and of good enough quality for an academic assignment.
The questions below will help you to determine whether a source should be considered trustworthy.
Who are the authors? Individuals? Experts? Companies?
Who published it?
Look out for bias and opinion pieces e.g. a company report that doesn't acknowledge the poor working conditions of its employees.
When was it published? Recent? Dated?
On the whole you will need the most current information to answer your question.
How was the research conducted?
Is it representative?
How can you use it to answer your need?
If it’s a piece of research, how did they conduct it? Were the method and sample size appropriate and representative?
Will it support points you are making?
What is the information?
Is it useful to your project?
It needs to relate to your question – try to keep a focus on the question not just the general topic.
Where did you find the information: website, blog, book, journal or database?
Where was the research conducted?
Always try to get your information from reputable sources e.g. textbooks, journals. Research conduced in other countries may not be relevant.
Why was it written?
What are the motivations behind it?
Look out for bias – see also ‘Who?’
Cornell University Library has an excellent webpage for critically analysing information sources which includes:
Author Who is the author and what are their credentials?
Date of publication When was the resource published and is it out-of-date for your own research needs?
Edition or revision Is it a first-edition or has it subsequently been revised by the author?
Publisher If it is a university publisher, then the work will likely be of academic standard.
Title of journal Is the journal scholarly or professional?
Audience Who is the intended audience of this work?
Objective reasoning Is the information covered fact, opinion or propaganda?
Coverage You need to make sure that you read widely so that you have a variety of viewpoints on a particular topic.