With all the information available
in this information age - thousands of books published each year, more magazines
than you could possibly read in a lifetime, and millions of Internet web sites
- how are you supposed to know which resources are best?
You cannot assume that everything
is reliable. In fact, it is increasingly important to approach everything with
a certain amount of skepticism. You need to be able to determine whether the
information is reliable and useful.
Here are some factors to consider
when judging the value of information. These apply equally to printed and electronic
|What are the author's
qualifications? The source itself may provide some biographical
information, or check biographical sources in the reference collection.
|Is the author an expert
on this topic? Has he or she written other material on the topic?
|Is the publisher or
sponsoring organization reputable?
|How reliable and free
from error is the information?
|Are sources listed so
the reader can verify the data?
|Are there editors or
other people who have checked the facts?
|Is the information presented
with a minimum of bias? If there is a bias, is it clearly stated?
|Is the information trying
to persuade the audience to change their opinion?
|If there is advertising
on the web page, is it clearly differentiated from the information
|Is the information up-to-date?
|Is currency important?
Some subjects, like medicine or technology, require current information.
Other subjects, like religion or history, may not need to be as
|Is the publication date
clearly noted? Does the web page indicate when it was written and
|Is your topic included
in the work? Check the table of contents or index.
|Are the topics explored
in depth or superficially?
|Is the language too
technical or specialized? If so, choose something that's more appropriate.