Currency: Timeliness of the information
Consider the following questions related to currency of information.
- When was the information published?
- Has it been revised or updated?
- Do you need current or historical information?
- Are the links functional? Do they lead to dated information?
Exploring Currency & Publication
How do you find publication information? These tips can help.
- Journal Articles: Publication information is provided with the journal and includes a volume and issue number. With a physical copy, this information is detailed on the journal cover and will often be located on each article.
- Journal Articles & Databases: Publication information is provided with identifying article information within the database such as journal title, article title, volume and issue, and page number. Database citation opportunities will provide this information as well.
- Online Articles: Publication dates are often placed near the article title and author byline. If the article is published online and in a physical journal, the dates may differ (print publication vs online availability).
- Web sites: If citing a site, not an article on the site, publication dates may be more challenging to locate. Check the bottom of the web site for last updated information, or even copyright information (should be recent).
- Blogs & Serialized Online: Dates are often automatically generated when the post/s is published; they may be located with the entry title, closing information, and could have a last updated designation. In some instances, the post URL will include a publication date.
- Books & eBooks: Publication date is detailed on the title page and copyright page. For citation purposes, the copyright page will be the best resource for information.
Relevance: Importance of information for research needs
Consider the following questions related to information relevance.
- Does the information relate to your topic or research question?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is the information at an appropriate level? Is it too simple or too complicated?
- Have you reviewed other similar resources before determining this is what you need?
- Are you comfortable citing this in your research?
Exploring Information Resources
Locate information, collect & select data from a variety of resources.
- Databases & Academic Discipline: Use databases and journal resources important to your academic discipline.
- Literature Review Process: The literature search will include books and ebooks, scholarly and practitioner journals, theses and dissertations, and indexes.
- Open Access: Resources that are freely available such as the Directory of Open Access Journals.
- Online Resources: Web sites, blogs, open access resources, and newspapers.
- Bibliographies & References: Explore citations included with research articles.
Remember, ATS Librarians can help you locate relevant research resources.
Authority: Source of the information
Consider the following questions related to information authority.
- Who is the author, publisher, source, or sponsor of the information?
- What are the author's credentials or their organizational affiliation?
- Is the author qualified to write about the topic?
- Is contact information, such as author or publisher email, provided?
- If an online article, web site, blog, or other media, does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
Exploring Resource Authority
Tips for locating author, publisher, and site credentials.
- Scholarly & Practitioner Articles: Author information is generally presented with the article abstract or conclusion. Included would be name, email, title and position, and college or university affiliation.
- Bibliography & References: Is the author cited in other research? Is the author know in the field? What credentials (academic, corporate, government) are provided with the information resource? Check article references, bibliography, and review other literature.
- Web site URL: Review the web site address. Is it a .com (commercial), .gov (government), .org (organization), or a .edu (education)? This may provide details on site purpose and qualifications of the author, publisher, or source of the information.
- Site & Publisher: Check the web site or publisher "about" section for details. Learn who is publishing the information, if submissions are reviewed, and what purpose the information is serving.
Accuracy: Reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of information
Consider the following questions related to information reliability.
- Where does the information come from?
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
- Can you verify any of the information in another source?
- Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
- Are there spelling, grammar, or typographical errors?
Exploring accuracy and credibility
Tips for checking information reliability.
- Information Source: Does the resource include references? Are sources properly cited? Are you able to verify where data was found? Look further than the initial source, check citations. Has the information been repeated elsewhere?
- Media Type: Don't limit yourself to one specific media type. Verify the accuracy of the source by exploring books, articles, databases, and more.
- Scholarly & Practitioner Journals: Search for the journal home page. In most cases, journal publishers provide details regarding aim and scope, type of articles published, and the review process used prior to publication of works.
- Author Information: Research the author. Have they published in peer-reviewed or refereed journals before? Do their credentials support information reliability?
- Publisher Information: Research the publisher. Most sites have an about page that provides details about the publication, their board, and their organization.
Purpose: The reason the information exists
Consider the following questions related to information purpose.
- Why does the information exist? What purpose does the information serve?
- Is the information there to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?
- Do the authors / sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
- Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?
- Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
- Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, or personal biases?
Exploring Information Purpose
Tips for checking information resource purpose.
- Scholarly & Practitioner Journals: Publisher web sites list aim, scope, and purpose of the journal. This information is clearly stated and is often accompanied by, or located with, about information or details for submitting articles for publication.
- ATS/AU Library Databases: When reviewing articles in the database, explore links presented with the article abstract and bibliographic information. Links to publisher pages may be included, as well as links to the journal page within the database.
- Online Information: Review the "about" page on web sites, blogs, and news resources, often located at the bottom of web site pages with copyright information.
- Online Information Types: Keep in mind sites that are satire or humor, political or targeted to a specific audience, may offer a statement of purpose. Look for the original source of the information and check the intention stated.