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Library Research at Winthrop: Evaluate

How to Evaluate the Information Sources You Find

Evaluating the authority, usefulness, and reliability of the information you find is a crucial step in the process of library research. The questions you ask about books, periodical articles, multimedia titles, or Web pages are similar whether you're looking at a citation to the item, a physical item in hand, or an electronic version on a computer.


Distinguishing Scholarly from Other Periodicals shows how to evaluate periodicals by looking at their format, intended audience, and appearance.

Journals vs. Magazines

  1. Are published to disseminate information; very subject specific
  2. Usually published monthly or quarterly
  3. Articles are footnoted and have bibliographies
  4. Examples: Journal of the American Medical Association, Childhood Education


  1. Are published primarily to make a profit for the publisher
  2. Usually published weekly or monthly
  3. Rarely contain footnotes or bibliographies
  4. Examples: Time, Sports Illustrated, Readers Digest



Library tutorial

Evaluating web and data

"Become Data Literate in 3 Simple Steps" shows how to evaluate the numbers used in articles, books, and the media.
  Source: Understanding Data, part of The Data Journalism Handbook, Version 1.0 beta online.


A few questions to ask

  1. Who is the author?
  2. Is the site scholarly in nature?
  3. Is it about your research topic? Or did the search engine just find it because of keywords?
  4. Do you know the meaning of .gov, .edu, .org, .com?
Evaluating Web Pages: Questions to Ask & Strategies for Getting the Answers is an excellent guide from UC Berkeley to further explain Web resources