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Information Interrogation (Wayne College)

Where = Format Reliability and Accuracy

Focus your attention on the source of the information.  Determine the format and how scholarly the source is.

Information Interrogation: Where?

Ask yourself: Where does the information come from? What is the source?

  • Look carefully at the source:
    • Can you categorize the source? (Qualitative / quantitative, popular / scholarly, format)
  • How does the source's format contribute to your faith in the reliability and accuracy of the information included?

General Considerations:

  • Would the source be considered popular, professional, or scholarly? (see guide below)
  • What is the format for the source?
  • Are the sources for data, statistics, and facts documented so you can verify them in another source? (It’s a good idea to do this).
  • Where did the author get his / her information?
  • Are quotations attributed to named people? Be sure to track down the authority of those people as well.

Considerations based on Format:

  • What evidence of research is provided? Look for references or a bibliography / works cited, endnotes or footnotes.
  • Have book reviews indicated that the book offers accurate, reliable information?
Periodical articles
  • Does the article come from a scholarly or peer-reviewed journal?
  • What evidence of research is provided? Look for references or a bibliography / works cited, endnotes or footnotes.
  • Is there evidence of bias or propaganda? (See the Purpose guide for more details)
  • What other sites have links back to this site? Using Google, type in “link:” immediately followed by the website address.
  • Is the website well-organized and easy to navigate?
  • What are the author(s) research methods?

Is it Scholarly?

When trying to determine if an article would be considered "scholarly," look at the following characteristics:

  • Length: The article is usually several pages long, and can, at times, be as long as 20 to 30 pages.
  • Author: There is always an author or group of authors listed. The author(s) usually have credentials or affiliations listed.
  • Audience: The intended audience is other experts, researchers, and students in the field.
  • Refereed: Articles may be “refereed,” or reviewed by peers prior to being accepted for publication.
  • Illustrations: The article may include maps, tables, and graphs that support the text. Colorful photographs are rarely used.
  • References: The article always includes citations to research discussed in the article in the form of footnotes, endnotes, or bibliographies.
  • Language: Look for vocabulary that would be used in the author’s field or discipline.
  • Format: The article follows a standardized format (APA, MLA, etc.).
  • Title: Keep in mind that not all scholarly journals have “Journal” in the title (although many do). Also, not every source that has “Journal” in the title is actually scholarly. (Example: Ladies Home Journal)