Information provided by: (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2020, from http://web.archive.org/web/20180723183700/http://gethelp.library.upenn.edu/PORT/evaluate/
Relevant information is about your topic and helps to answer your question. Some of the information may be related to the concepts in your topic and yet still not be relevant. To make good relevance judgments you need to know a good deal about your topic and what sorts of information are available. To determine the relevance of information you need to answer the following questions and use the answers to make smart decisions:
Information about an event will appear over time in different types of resources. Depending on the type of research you are doing, you may need to consider the time frame in which the information has been published. This time line indicates the minimum amount of time after an event takes places or an idea is developed that information about it filters into various types of media. Information may always appear later.
What to look for - Time-Sensitive Research:
Research about events occurring in the present or very recent past must rely on media with a short information cycle. Events that happened less than a week ago may only be covered on the Internet, newspapers and radio transcripts.
Researchers needing current data such as statistics, scientific breakthroughs or current events may want to use journals, newspapers or even the Internet to access information. Furthermore, researchers should be careful with older works that may be dated.
Researchers needing primary resources that are very contemporary with an event will likely have more luck using newspapers, magazines and personal accounts from that time period than using books or journal articles, which often appear long after the event being considered.
Problems that can arise when you don't consider the currency of the information:
Even if a work is credible, it may not be accurate. It might rely on or present incorrect information. This is a particular problem when the work is old, emotionally charged or addresses a disputed or unclear issue. Look for the following signs to determine whether a work is accurate:
A credible resource is one that is deserving of belief. A credible resource may provide incorrect or misleading information, but it is much less likely to do so than is a resource that lacks credibility.
Signs of a Credible Source:
Sources of information can usually be determined to be credible or not by considering who is responsible for the information in it, who made it available, and where you learned about it:
• Signs of a credible author
• Signs of a credible publisher
• Signs of a credible referring source
Problems might you run into if you don't use a credible source:
According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, bias is "an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially: a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment: PREJUDICE." All authors have inclinations of outlook and are to some degree biased, but bias damages the reliability of some works more than others.
Signs suggesting bias:
The Cautious Researcher Should: