Learn About: Criteria used to evaluate print and Internet information resources, differences between print and Internet resources, characteristics of scholarly vs. popular periodicals, and the scholarly publication cycle.
Evaluating information sources is a important part of the research process. Not all information is reliable or true, nor will all information be suitable for your paper or project. Print and Internet sources vary widely in their authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, and coverage. Users must be able to critically evaluate the appropriateness of all types of information sources prior to relying on the information.
The Internet, especially the World Wide Web, has surpassed most libraries in the quantity of information it makes available. However, the Web has not surpassed libraries in the overall quality of information it makes available. Traditionally, a main component of library collections has been print (paper) materials. Today, however, many online resources are being added to supplement collections, replace printed (paper) items, or improve access. Although online sources are accessible via the Internet, many originated in paper form and follow the same publication criteria. Therefore the quality of print and online information sources are similar and will be considered the same in this discussion. A look at a few characteristics of print and Internet sources will identify major quality distinctions between print and Internet information sources.
Five Criteria for Evaluating Resources: AAOCC
For this brief introduction to evaluating sources in LS101, we will use a list of five critical criteria. You might want to remember AAOCC (Authority, Accuracy, Objectivity, Currency, and Coverage), if for no other reason than you might be asked to list these criteria and describe them briefly. The same basic questions should be asked of all information sources: books, journal articles, web pages, blogs, videos, sound recordings and e-books.