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PHIL 202: Ethics & Moral Problems: Evaluating the Quality of Information

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 political organization that doesn't reveal the source of their funding. Keep an eye out for people posting their own personal opinions, without any supporting facts, in formats such as blog posts and YouTube videos. Take the time to investigate more than one side of an issue; don't rely on a single perspective.

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.


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