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Ekstrom Library

CJ 325: Research Methods (Tolle): Home

Class Topic

Community Policing

Purpose of Information Evaluation & this Exercise

Oftentimes, we are evaluating an information source without even thinking about it. We watch the news and think about it a certain way or we read a book and consider what evidence it's offering us. When we're asked to make arguments about why our information should be considered as credible and relevant, it's often difficult to respond without consciously thinking it through. This is why critically thinking through an information source is imperative to constructing solid arguments.

In order to critically think through information sources, we need to take a step back and reflect on what we have read. It's helpful to start with a series of questions in mind for how to evaluate an information source as you're initially reading it. You might want to consider things like:

  • What is the purpose of this information? Why is it being written?

  • Who is the author, and how are they an authority on this topic? Are they even an authority in this field?

  • Did this work undergo some sort of review process?

These are only a few of the myriad questions you could ask yourself. Evaluating information usually does not come down to simply whether something is reliable, but the degree to which you can rely on it. As stated on the Evaluating Information Sources Research Guide by Humanities Librarian Rob Detmering, "The primary goal of evaluation is to understand the significance and value of a source in relation to other sources and your own thinking on a topic."

For More Information on How to Evaluate an Information Source

For more information on evaluating information sources as well as for questions you should ask yourself in order to identify the context, credibility, depth, point of view, and relevance of an information source, please refer to our research guide on evaluating information sources.