Evaluating

Evaluating Information Sources

A good research assignment starts with S.T.A.R. quality information. Evaluate the quality of the information sources you find using the S.T.A.R. criteria. Ask yourself the following questions:

Source

Who is the author? Who is making the information available? What are their credentials or qualifications? What makes them an authority on this subject? Is the source biased or expressing opinion? Choose sources that are credible and relatively objective.

Timeliness

When was the information published or last updated? Does the date of publication matter to your assignment? For example, if you are working on a current event, or a science or health topic, you will need something that has been published recently. If you are working on an historical topic, currency may not be as important.

Accuracy

Is the information free of spelling, grammatical and technical errors? Where did the information come from? Look for information or references that can be verified.

Relevance

Does this information meet the requirements of your assignment? How will it help answer the question you are asking? Choose information that will help you build a strong argument, illuminate concepts, or provide the best evidence.

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Recognizing Types of Articles

Do you need to use specific types of articles for your assignment? Use the charts below to distinguish different types of articles.

Scholarly/Academic Articles

Author

  • Researchers

  • Academics

  • Scholars

  • Professors

Readers

  • Researchers

  • Academics

  • Scholars

  • Professors

  • Students

Appearance

  • Charts

  • Graphs

  • Lengthy articles

  • No pictures or ads

Information

  • Original research

  • Theory

  • Applied practice

  • Statistics

  • Often peer-reviewed

Language

  • Academic

  • Technical

  • Specialized vocabulary of the field

Sources

  • Extensive reference lists

Publisher

  • Professional organizations

  • Universities

  • Research institutes

  • Scholary presses

Examples

  • Advances in Nursing Science

  • Contemporary Sociology

  • Journal of Management Studies

  • Nature

Trade Articles

Author

  • Experts or professionals in the profession

Readers

  • Practitioners in the profession

Appearance

  • Glossy

  • Ads

  • Pictures

  • Charts

  • Graphs

Information

  • News & trends relevant to the profession

  • Practical industry or company information

Language

  • Specialized vocabulary of the profession

Sources

  • Occasional brief reference lists

Publisher

  • Commercial publisher

  • Professional associations

Examples

  • Accounting Technology

  • Young Children

  • HR Magazine

  • Business Week

Popular & Newspaper Articles

Author

  • Journalists

  • Staff-writers

Readers

  • General readers

Appearance

  • Glossy

  • Ads

  • Pictures

  • Short articles

Information

  • News

  • Trends

  • Events

  • Popular culture

  • Opinion

Language

  • Aimed for general readers

Sources

  • No reference lists

Publisher

  • Commercial publisher

Examples

  • Macleans

  • Sports Illustrated

  • Edmonton Journal

  • Globe & Mail

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