Once you have done all the research and you are ready to start writing a paper or article, it is important to check the information quality. This is important in order to establish credibility to your name or to ensure that you are gaining the right kind of information. Here are a few questions you need to ask when you are checking information:
Is the author or organization clearly identified?
Practically everyone can make a web site and post whatever type of information they want. Protect yourself from bias information or false information by looking for information or clues that show the author is justified in what they are saying. You will find that the author should be identified quickly and they may have a section referencing their education or skills. Check to see if there is a way to contact the author or organization. This will also provide you with assurance that the information is credible.
Is the information clear?
Another thing you need to look for is bias opinions in the information. If you are doing an opinion piece, then this information is fine. For those who aren’t looking to do an opinion piece, you need to find information that looks at “both sides of the story”. A good web site will tell you up front about the information you will find on their site. For example, many web sites will have a mission statement or a disclaimer stating what type of information you can expect to see on their site.
Is the information relevant?
You can find out if the information is relevant by looking for resources, authority and qualifications. Authority is quite important to pay attention to when you are checking information. “Authority indicates whether or not an individual, an organization, or an agency is recognized as an expert in a field and if that body is knowledgeable, qualified, and reliable.” The proper authority indicates whether or not you are gaining the right information. Government agencies and academic organizations are often trusted with authority. Check for the author’s biography or the company’s mission statement to determine if the information matches what the company claims they know.
Can you check the information?
This is an important question! Remember that the information you are gaining may not be “screened” by anyone. The Internet does not have a group that checks all the information on a daily basis to ensure everyone is gaining the correct information. Here are the three key things to look for when you are checking the information:
1.The author. Are they who they say they are and is their biography legitimate?
2.Plagiarism. Does anyone else have the exact same information? Do you suspect the author stole this information from another company or person?
3.Do you have all the information out there? Look around to determine if you have all your sources checked out before stating information is faulty.
How old is the information?
Another key part to information quality is knowing how old the information is. A report you made in the 5th grade probably will be outdated by the time you are thirty three! The same goes with the information you are obtaining. As you are aware life changes on a daily basis and that means the information out there changes too! Be sure you are looking at the dates the information was published before you trust that it is the latest information out there.
Is the information biased?
This is the last question you need to ask when you are checking information for its quality. Again, this goes back to where you gained the information from and what type of author you are getting the information from. You want to find information that gives you a balanced opinion instead of just assuming that this is the only opinion.