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SPH 101 (Prof. Grassinger) North: Evaluating Information

A research guide for Professor Grassinger's SPH 101 classes @ North Campus.

Watch out for Fake News

How Fake News Works (Wired video)

How False News Can Spread

Criteria for evaluating

Criteria for Evaluating

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to evaluate the quality of any information before using it it a paper, presentation, or some other project.

As a starting point, consider evaluating the author's expertise, the objectivity of the work, and currency of publication. Look at the items below for more details and example questions that you can ask when evaluating sources such as books, articles, and websites.


What should you ask yourself when trying to determine the level of expertise of the person who created the information?

Who wrote this and why should I trust them?

  • Who created the information?
  • What kind of education or experience does the author have?
  • Is contact information available to verify the author's credentials?
  • Is the author part of a university or some other reputable organization?
  • Was the information published by a reputable source?
  • Does the author quote and cite reliable sources?
  • Is the information posted on a reliable site like a scholarly journal or someplace less reliable like Facebook?


What should you ask when trying to determine the objectivity of a piece of information?

You can describe a source as being objective if it fairly represents various sides of an argument or issue.
A source that promotes or favors one side of an argument can be described as biased or an opinionated work.

    What is the purpose of the information?

  • Is the author trying to sell a product or service?
  • Is the author trying to persuade you on a controversial topic?
  • Is the author trying to explain various sides of an issue?
  • Is the author sharing the results of research on the topic?


What should you ask yourself when evaluating a piece of information for currency?

How current is the information?

  • When was the information published?
  • How old is the content of the source?
  • Does my topic need current information to be accurate or will older information be OK?
  • Does my assignment require sources that were published within a certain timeframe?
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