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Evaluating the quality of information

With the Internet and the exponential growth of the information available, the need for information assessment becomes a critical issue. Nowadays anyone can publish contents online very easily without any review or previous approval. This demands from the readers extra critical thinking and analysis of content.

Hereby you can find some tips on how to be more more effective in this critical analysis of Internet sources. It should include two perspectives: analysis of reliability and analysis of relevance:

Evaluating reliability

Reliability analysis is very objective and is focused on the following criteria:

  1. Authorship
  2. Publishing or updating date
  3. URL

Question yourself about the page's authorship:

  • Is it an individual or collective author (an organization)?
  • Can you identify who is the author? (name, e-mail, address, affiliation, other?)
  • Can you find the author's cv or qualifications?

Search in the page for:

  • Contacts: name, e-mail, affiliation
  • The "About us" section

Question yourself about the page's publishing or updating date:

  • Can you see the publishing date or the updating date anywhere in the page?
  • Are there any outdated links?

Search in the page for:

  1. The creation or updating date (it is usually available at the end of the page)
  2. The update frequency of the page (it usually appears in the "About us" section)

Question yourself about the page's URL:

  • the URL can help you to understand what is the page origin and gives you some hints on its nature.

Search in the page for:

  1. .edu ou .ac - academic servers
  2. .gov - governamental servers
  3. .org - non governamental servers
  4., or .net - comercial servers

Evaluating relevance

The relevance analysis is more complex because it deals with content analysis. It is focused on the following criteria:

  1. Objectivity
  2. Precision
  3. Purpose

Question yourself about the objectivity of the information you have found:

  • Is the information presented in a factual or biased way?
  • Can you spot any different points of view on controversial subjects or not?

Question yourself about the information's precision:

  • Do the facts and results match with those of other specialists?
  • Is the information well structured and organized?
  • Is the text free of spelling and grammar errors? 

Question yourself about the page's purpose:

  • What is the purpose of the page: is it to inform, entertain, persuade or sell?
  • What was the author's motivation? (what led the author to create this content?)
  • Does the information match your information need?

Have you already wondered...?

"On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog."

Cartoon by Peter Steiner. 1993. "On the internet, nobody knowsyou’re a dog."The New Yorker, July 5th, 61. New York: Condé Nast Publications.

Did you know?

At the library's website you will find only quality and reliable information resources.

Since the final result of you assignments will depend on the quality of the information you select, please ensure that you choose the most reliable and relevant sources.

Licença Creative Commons
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