Resource evaluation is a vital part of any research project, whether academic or for personal knowledge. As a researcher, you will need to take an objective view of any source you are considering.
By utilizing the 5Ws (who, what, when, where, why), you will be able to make an informed decision on whether a source is appropriate for your project.
But how do you know which type of resource is best for your project and which individual resources are the best to use?
"If information is going to be trusted, you may want to know on what basis someone speaks. Has the author done work in this area before? Does the author know how to investigate the topic?"
- Budd, J.M. (2008). Cognitive growth, instruction, and student success. College & Research Libraries, 69(4), 319-330.
Watch the short video below to get started...
There are many problems that can arise if you do not evaluate your resources. The most damaging for academic writers is when a source is selected to support a topic but then the source turns out to be false.
Here is an example of a recent case where the researcher falsified data to support his claim, http://ori.hhs.gov/content/case-summary-pastorino-john-g. This falsified data was published in 8 papers (The Office of Research Integrity, 2016).
What if you were researching this topic and used one of these papers as a source for your research project? Now your research is also false.
This is an extreme case, but everyday people create new websites and publish information that is inaccurate, fabricated, and/or biased. It is vital that you know how to evaluate information so that you can make informed decisions on the sources you choose to use both in your academic research but also in any research for personal knowledge you conduct.
The comic to the right illustrates what happens when someone decides to post made up information on Wikipedia and how fast the information can spread and be used by other authors as fact.