Tips for Critically Analyzing Information Sources

by Barbara J. Feldman on June 6, 2008

There are several ways in which you can check your sources to determine if the information is valid.

If you have a book in your hand, you can do this by opening the back section and checking for the bibliography. On the other hand, the Internet sources cite their bibliography differently. If it is a paper or on-line book, the bibliography should be at the very end. Most web sites will place links to their sources on different web pages, it just depends on which web site you go to.

Analyzing information from a web site or a book is quite easy by using the following tips:

Always look for the author.

When you are looking for the author you need to check for 3 important things:

1.Does the book, magazine, or web site list the author’s credentials? Most web sites will have a section dedicated to their author’s so you can properly evaluate their credentials.

2.Is the author respected? The easiest way to know if an author is respected is to ask a college professor, look for other web pages that link to the article, and check to see if the author’s name appears in other sources.

3.Lastly, you should look for information linking the author to a reputable institution or organization. Find out what the goals or the mission statement is of this organization and check the author’s writing style to see if they are matching these values.

Look for the date.

When you are analyzing information, checking the date of publication is important. Information found from 1968 may have changed! You should be able to locate the date of publication quite easily. Most books will have this date on the title page below the publisher’s name. Web sites will list the date at the very bottom of the article, or they may even list it at the bottom of the home page. If you cannot find a date, continue looking. Many topics are continuing to develop and require daily, weekly, and monthly updates.

What edition or revision is this?

Look at your article or book for the edition number or revision number. Are you holding a first edition or a revision? An updated or revised edition will indicate that a source was omitted or was revised from the original publication. Web sites will also indicate revision dates (if the company permits it). It is good to note that many printings or editions may indicate that your source is reliable and is considered a standard in that particular area of information.

Publisher.

You should always look for the publisher when you are analyzing information. If you are looking for scholarly information, you want to find a source that is published by a university press. Check the publisher’s web site as well. Their web site will provide you with a listing of all the books or articles they have published and some even provide links to the author’s biography. Always be aware that just because a publisher may have a good reputation, it does not mean the published work is the best quality. This may indicate that the publisher holds the author in high regard and will publish anything they write.

Title of Journal.

The last thing you need to look for is the title of journal. Check the source to see if it is a scholarly or popular journal. It is important to note this distinction because it will convey different levels of ideas.

Learning how to analyze information sources will help you in your research process. The last thing you want to do is obtain faulty or skewed information and pass it on as truth.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Tips for Critically Analyzing Information Sources." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 6 Jun. 2008. Web. 1 Oct. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/458/tips-for-critically-analyzing-information-sources/ >.