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PARL: Paralegal Studies: Evaluating the Quality of Information

This guide will help you locate and use legal resources owned by the Paul & Harriett Mack Library at Northampton Community College.

Tips for Evaluating Online and Print Resources

Beware of baloney!


An important part of the research process is evaluating the quality of information you find, regardless of its physical format (print or online), or where you found it (periodicals, databases, or the Internet). Be skeptical of any legal information that seems to be based on personal opinion or one individual’s experience. Watch out for:


o   Blogs or social networking sites containing the personal bias of one individual or interest group;


o   Outcomes of litigation that occurred in other states or jurisdictions, which may have no bearing on your situation;


o   Court decisions that have since been overturned;


o   Hearsay evidence or other information that cannot be verified by official documents.


Questions to ask when evaluating online and print sources:


Who are the authors or sponsors of this Web site or publication?  Is the person, agency or corporation knowledgeable in the field? [AUTHORITY]


Where did the information come from that is used in this Web site/publication?  Are references (“works cited”) given?  Can the information be confirmed elsewhere? [ACCURACY]


What is the purpose of this Web site/publication? Does it give facts or opinion? Is it biased toward one side of an issue?  Does it give different viewpoints? Is the site trying to sell a product? [OBJECTIVITY]


When was the information published? (Check copyright date or date last updated.) [CURRENCY] 


Why is this site appropriate for college work (or why not)?  Is the material comprehensive or general?  Is it written for professionals, college students, general readers or children? [COVERAGE]


 Remember: Not all information found on the Web is appropriate for college research.




Library Liaison for PARL

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Anne Bittner
Mack Library
Northampton Community College
College Center, 4th Floor
Subjects: Business, Paralegal