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Chemical Engineering Lab 4200:360 - 2015 Literature Assignment

A guide to help students with Dr. Evans's literature search assignment.

Evaluating Information

Find out how to critically evaluate information from this video tutorial by Western University Libraries (2.17 min.).

The same information found in the video can be found on Evaluating Sources: The CRAAP Test opens new window by Washington State Libraries.


Use the following criteria to evaluate the information resources you use in your research:

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or too out-of-date for my topic?
  • Are all the links functional or are there dead links?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

  • Does the information relate to my topic or answer my question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too simple or advanced) for my needs?
  • Did I look at a variety of sources before deciding to use this one?
  • Would I be comfortable using this source for my college research paper?

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? Examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net.

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed by anyone else?
  • Can I verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased? Or is it free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, typographical, or other errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Source: Evaluating Information, University Libraries, University of Rhode Island,

Information Cycle

Circular image. Research and publication cycle. Clockwise. Primary sources. 1. Research and development = Laboratory notebooks. 2. Non-formal communication= Invisible college. (subcategories: memoranda, departmental colloquia, correspondence, and email). 3. Preliminary communication = Letter to the editor (subcategory letters, journals) and Biosequence data and patents. 4. Formalize = Conference proceedings, technical reports, dissertations, theses, journal articles. Secondary sources. 1. Organize = Indexes and abstracts (subcategories: bibliographic databases, bioinformatics databases, and bibliograpies). 2. Repackage = handbooks, directories, dictionaries, yearbooks, and almanacs. 3. concentrate = encyclopedias, treatises, monographs, and reviews. Tertiary sources. 1. organize = library catalogs and guides to the literature. Search strategy. counter clockwise meaning, tertiary sources, secondary sources, then primary sources. Guide to library research in science by Julia Gustafson.