It is important to critically evaluate the information source before you use it in your research.
Below are some questions to ask to assist you in selecting an appropriate print resource.
Who is the author?
- is the author qualified to write authoritatively on a certain topic?
- can you determine the author's credentials (such as education background, current position, etc.)?
- try putting the author's name in quotation marks and searching for information about them in Google.
- check to see if any information about the author can be found in the publication.
- what else has been written by the author? This may be in the book or do a Google search.
Who is the publisher?
- is the book published by an academic press or a commercial publisher?
- if it is a commercial publisher, do they publish scholarly or popular books?
- is the article from a popular magazine or scholarly journal?
- is the article peer-reviewed?
Who is this information written for?
- is the level appropriate for your research?
- is it aimed at a specialised or general audience?
- is the language difficult to understand?
What will this information add to your project?
- does it help you understand the subject and answer your questions?
- can you use the bibliography to find more information on your subject?
- does it verify information from other sources you are using?
When was it published?
- how old is the material?
- is current information important for your topic?
- is the information recent enough for the topic?
- information in the sciences is updated frequently, and usually topics demand up-to-date information.
- research in the humanities and some social sciences is not so dependent on currency of information, and older materials may prove appropriate.