chapter  4
20 Pages

Evaluating sources

No matter where you are in your learning process you are going to have to develop the capacity to evaluate the quality of the information you encounter. Of course, this is true whether the sources you are using are in books, articles, newspapers or on the Internet. However, judging the quality of sources has been made easier in most traditional paper-based sources of data, not only because they tend to provide you with easily identifiable clues by which to judge their accuracy and quality but also because many of these sources have already gone though extensive processes of peer review and academic assessment, particularly articles appearing in scholarly journals and books published by the major publishing houses. Further, items you find in the university library have gone through a series of steps to ensure their credibility, accuracy and quality, since the majority have either been recommended by an academic or judged to be an important contribution to the library’s collection by a subject-specialist librarian. As such, you have a fairly good idea that the data presented in these sources is useable in your research and learning. When it comes to the Internet, on the other hand, these safeguards are often absent and for the most part, anyone can publish anything online. In the light of this it is not surprising that whilst there are undoubtedly some excellent resources available on the Internet, there are equally many sites being put up every day that are biased, opinionated, inaccurate or dubious. Because of this, it is extremely important to make sure that the information you access and utilise is both appropriate for your research and maintains the level of accuracy, credibility and objectivity that is required in an academic context.