Evaluating Information Based on Authorship

by Barbara J. Feldman on June 6, 2008

Authorship is perhaps the most important criterion that is used in evaluating information. So much information is available, and because that information can appear to be somewhat anonymous, it is necessary to develop skills to evaluate what you find. When you use a research or library, the books, journals and other resources have already been evaluated by scholars, publishers and librarians. Every resource you find has been evaluated in one way or another before you ever see it. When looking at information on the Internet, remember that anyone can write a Web page. There is a wide variety of information written by authors of the widest range of authority, and you may not know how valid the publishings are. So, it is important to evaluate authorship of the content that you read.

Here is how to evaluate authorship of information:

•When the author is someone unknown to you, ask these following questions:
•Is the document signed by the author?
•Can you get other information on the author by navigating away from this page to other documents?
•Was there information about the author on the new page that you went to?

If you can find that information just from answering these questions, then you will have enough information to find out who the author is. Once you have found that out you should be able access their email or telephone number to contact them with further questions you may have about the article.

If the document doesn’t give enough information alone on the author, then you will need to investigate a little more to find that out. There are many other ways to do this:

Go to the homepage and search for the author’s name to find authorship of the article. Normally, authors can be identified on the first page of a website at the bottom of the webpage in the copyright section. Otherwise, you can find a link to author information or a profile page.
You can even use an email finder to try and track the author down.

Also, try finding the author’s name in quotations in the article. Look for the name of the author, or the name of the organization, institution, agency, or whoever is responsible for the page.
If there is no personal author, look for an agency or organization that claims responsibility for the page. If you cannot find this, locate the publisher by truncating back the URL. Does this publisher claim responsibility for the content?

If the author’s identity cannot be found, it is most likely that the information is coming from an unreliable source. It is also important to check the credentials of the author.

•What is the reputation of the particular site you are searching?
•Is the site a well known one?
•What is the reputation of others that are involved in the production of the site, such as the publishers, any sponsors, or any advertisers?
•Does the site have any credentials from other websites? For example: Has it had any awards?
•Is it listed in an authoritative website’s portal?

The identity of authors often verifies the information and the quality of the source. It is important to know how to evaluate authorship of information to ensure that you are getting the best quality. Following these guidelines on how to evaluate authorship of information will help you in finding the best recourses to whatever it is that you are searching. Make sure you take the time to make sure you are getting your information from a reliable and valuable source.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Evaluating Information Based on Authorship." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 6 Jun. 2008. Web. 23 Oct. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/450/evaluating-information-based-on-authorship/ >.