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CO 225: Business & Professional Communication: Evaluating Resources

This guide is designed to help you locate resources for topics discussed in CO225, Business & Professional Communication

Using Critical Thinking to Evaluate Sources

Think Critically!

The ability to think critically about information is essential to evaluating its reliability and relevance. Use the resources on this page to help you become a better news consumer and critical thinker as well as a good digital citizen

Media Literacy

Learning to create, assess and use various types of media is not just for the classroom, it's an everyday skill you'll use for life. Use the tools in our Media Literacy research guide to explore this topic in greater depth and build your knowledge!

Evaluating Information Rubric

Evaluating Information Rubric

Here are some general questions you should ask when evaluating print sources and websites.

Evaluation Criteria What to Look for in Books and Periodicals What to Look for in Websites
Currency

Does the paper/assignment require the most current information, historical information, or information over a period of time?

If you are researching a topic that is currently in the news, you may want only the most recent information. If you are researching a historical event, you may want information written at the time of the event.

For books: What is the copyright date on the reverse of the title page? Does it meet your needs? Is this the most recent edition?

For periodicals:  Does the publication date meet your needs? 

Does the paper/assignment require the most current information, historical information, or information over a period of time?

When was the website published or created? (look for a copyright date on the homepage)

When was the site last updated or revised?

Are the links up to date?

Authority

What are the author's credentials and reputation?

What other works on the subject has the author written?

Is the author an expert or researcher in the field? A government agency? A journalist?

Has the author been cited by your instructor?

Has the author been cited in other publications you've read?

Who is supplying the information?

Is it an educational institution (.edu extension)? A government agency (.gov)? A commercial supplier (.com)? A non-profit organization (.org)?

Is the supplier a reputable organization? (look for an “About Us” link on the homepage)

Is there an author or contact person named? What are the author's credentials (see "What to look for in books and periodicals")?

Has this site been reviewed by experts or professional organizations?

Validity/Accuracy

If the information is not current, is it still accurate?

Can the information be verified or supported by other sources? Do other sources report the same findings?

Is evidence given to support the information?

Are sources of factual information cited?

Are sources of information cited?

Compared to other sources, is the information complete and accurate?

Are the links also complete and accurate, or are there discrepancies?

Is selection criteria provided for the links found in the website?

Audience

Who is the intended audience? Researchers or experts? Trade or professional members? The general public?

Is the source appropriate for your needs, or is it too technical, advanced or elementary?

Who is the intended audience? Experts or the general public? 

Is the site appropriate for your needs, or is it too technical or too elementary? Is it too full of jargon?

Point of View (bias)

Does the source have a particular bias?

Does it promote the ideas of a particular group - religious, political, etc.?

Is the information objective or partial?

Is it factual information or interpretations of facts?

Are there assumptions and opinions stated?

Does the information appear to be filtered or is it free from bias?

Could the organization sponsoring the site have a stake in how the information is presented?

Does the site contain advertisements?

Are various points of view, theories, techniques, or schools of thought offered?

Purpose/Context

Is the information for academic purposes or entertainment?

How closely does the book or journal relate to the purpose for which you need that information?

What is the purpose of the website or article?

How closely does the website relate to the purpose for which you need that information?

 

This work is adapted from Evaluating Information Rubric by Penn State University Libraries and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Choosing Sources

This excellent guide from the University of Arizona has great tips on choosing sources for your research-based assignments! The guide addresses:

  • relevance
  • strength of evidence
  • appropriateness

What is a Credible Source?

As a university student, you are expected to use credible sources in your assessments and course work.  A credible source is one that is written by someone who is an expert in their discipline and is free of errors and bias. This video will help you get started.

Sources: USC Library, NC State Libraries

SIFT It

 

Learn to recognize misinformation using the SIFT assessment method developed by digital literacy expert Michael Caulfield, research scientist and instructor at the University of Washington:

  • STOP and check for previous work: Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research conducted.
  • INVESTIGATE by going upstream to the source: Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Since most web content is not original, you should backtrack to the original source of the assertion to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
  • FIND better coverage by reading laterally: Once you get to the source of a claim (book, article, photo, etc.), read what trusted sources say about it. Look for consensus amongst these sources.
  • TRACE the claim. Circle back to the original source and assess its context.

Click here for a tutorial on using the SIFT method.

Be a Critical Thinker

Info graphic for "Ultimate Cheatsheet for Critical Thinking" - scroll down for downloadable text version