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TCMS LIBRARY: EVALUATE

Helping the TCMS community become better readers, explorers, and digital citizens

RADCAB

​How do you decide what information to trust? Looking carefully at the RADCAB elements is one way.

Before you decide to use information, look carefully at the information AND the website where the information is posted.

Like a detective, search for clues and think about what they mean. Ask questions like: Who wrote this information? What was their motivation? Is it reliable? Accurate?

RELEVANCY

The RELEVANCY test asks if the information you find is relevant to the type of research you are doing. Is the information related to your research? Remember, as a researcher you are looking for academic information -- facts -- not something meant to entertain you.  You want a high-quality source.

Ask yourself:

  • What type of information do I need? Facts? Opinions? Eyewitness (primary) sources? A news article dated at the time of the event? Comprehensive analysis written after the event?
  • ​What type of source might give me the information I need? A journal or blog? Newspaper, magazine or journal article? Government report? Opinion piece?
  • Is the information about, or related to, my topic?

Tip:

  • Look at the article headings and website details for clues about what type of information is presented

QUIZ: ​Test your understanding of Relevancy on the sources below. Here's how:

  1. Read the blue text to see what you are "researching". 
  2. Evaluate RELEVANCY using the guidelines above.  
  3. Click on the ​ to see if you evaluated properly!

APPROPRIATENESS

The ​APPROPRIATENESS ​test asks whether the information you find is suitable for your reading level and core values.

Ask yourself:

  • Is the information suitable for my personal values and our school values? If not, move to another source.
  • Is the information difficult and confusing to understand? ​Find information at your reading level.

Tip:

  • Try changing your search strategy to find more appropriate resources. Ask for help if you need more guidance.

QUIZ: ​Test your understanding of Appropriateness on the sources below. Here's how:

  1. Read the blue text to see what you are researching.
  2. Evaluate Appropriateness using the guidelines above.  
  3. Click on the ​ to see if you evaluated properly!

DETAIL

The ​DETAIL ​test asks whether the information you find is enough. Is the depth of coverage adequate? Is the breadth of coverage adequate? Are viewpoints missing?

Ask yourself:

  • ​Are multiple viewpoints represented? What viewpoints are missing?
  • ​Are opinions balanced with facts? Or is the information based only on the writer's opinion or emotions?
  • Is the information accurate, complete and comprehensive?

Tip:

  • Look for articles which provide facts and supporting evidence
  • Look for named (not anonymous) sources, and links to supporting sources
  • In a separate browser, search for the same information in other reputable sources. Does the information match?
  • In a separate browser, search for quoted text. Was the text accurately quoted, or taken out of context?​

     

QUIZ: ​Test your understanding of Detail on the sources below. Here's how:

  1. Read the blue text to see what you are researching.
  2. Evaluate Detail using the guidelines above.  
  3. Click on the ​ to see if you evaluated properly!

CURRENCY

The ​CURRENCY ​test asks when the information was published or last updated. For some topics like current events, the source's date can be very important.  

Ask yourself:

  • ​Is the information current enough for your project? Some projects require information that is very current. Understand the requirements of your project when judging currency.

Tip:

QUIZ: ​Test your understanding of Currency on the sources below. Here's how:

  1. Read the blue text to see what you are "researching". 
  2. Evaluate CURRENCY using the guidelines above.  
  3. Click on the ​ to see if you evaluated properly!

AUTHORITY

The ​AUTHORITY ​test asks who the author is, and whether they are an expert. Because anyone can publish a website, the authority test to check for expert qualifications is SUPER important.

Ask yourself:

  • What credentials exist for the author or the publisher? What degrees, jobs or experience makes them an expert?
  • Is the author an expert in the field? Are the credentials appropriate for the article?
  • Does the source have an editorial or review process prior to publication? Was the author's work reviewed/edited before release, or did the source merely host and publish the author's work?
  • What do other sources say about the author or publisher? Search for information about them. Are they well-respected as authoritative?

Tip:

  • Look at the author's biography
  • Be wary if no author is provided. Look into the credentials, expertise and review process of the publisher.
  • Be wary of university sites which also contain a tilde (~) -- these pages are personal pages of employees or students, and do not necessarily represent the university's views.   
  • Search laterally: look for information about the author/publisher in other sources
  • Use “link:” search command to see other websites that link to this one
  • Use fact-checker sites (like Snopes) to check information

QUIZ: ​Test your understanding of Authority on the sources below. Here's how:

  1. Read the blue text to see what you are "researching". 
  2. Evaluate Authority using the guidelines above.  
  3. Click on the ​ to see if you evaluated properly!

BIAS

The ​BIAS ​test asks why the information was written. Was it written to inform you, persuade you, entertain you, or sell you something?

Ask yourself:

  • What is the writer's motivation? The publisher's motivation? Who is the intended audience?
  • Does the information present multiple perspectives to an issue?​ As a researcher, are you reading beyond the one perspective you hope to find, and actively considering other viewpoints?
  • Try to detect bias in the writing by looking at important clues like the domain name, the domain suffix, the advertising featured, the mission statement, the authorship, and the tone of voice or language used

Tip:

  • Look at the "About Us" or "Mission" sections of a website to understand the entity's mission
  • Be wary of persuasive or highly emotional language intended to evoke strong feelings and detract from the facts
  • Be wary of obvious stereotypes and easy solutions to complex problems (indications of bias and a lack of author expertise)
  • Be wary of the impact of a "filter bubble" on the information you receive. Consider using non-tracking browser like DuckDuckGo to gather perspectives aside from your own.

     

QUIZ: ​Test your understanding of Bias on the sources below. Here's how:

  1. Read the blue text to see what you are "researching". 
  2. Evaluate BIAS using the guidelines above.  
  3. Click on the ​ to see if you evaluated properly!