Skip to main content

Geosciences Guide

Why evaluation is important?

Information becomes less accurate the farther away you go from the original or primary source, becuase each new author adds his/her own interpretation.

Click on the cartoon below to understand better:

The Science News Cycle

Criteria for critical evaluation

It is essential to evaluate all sources (print or electronic) before using them for an assignment or research project. Free online sources (websites) require more careful evaluation. The most common criteria to evaluate scientific sources are:

Authority

Who is responsible for the document or website, a person or an organization? Search for the author’s qualifications. Is it a government (.gov), an educational (.edu), a non-profit (.org) or a company (.com) website or document? It is a popular or a scholarly source?

Accuracy

What is the content? Is it comprehensive and free of errors? Does the document or website include citations? If a website, does it include links to other good or reputable websites?

Currency

When the document or webpage was created or updated? Unless you are doing an historical background, scientific information needs to be current, because it changes fast.

Objectivity

Why this document or webpage was created? Does it describe the purpose? Is the information balanced and presented with minimum bias? Biased information has its use, but you need to know that before you use it.

Check your criteria

Additional information

The following sites describe evaluation criteria in detail and give additional information.

Denison University Libraries, 400 West Loop, Granville, Ohio 43023
Phone: 740-587-6235, email: reference@denison.edu
In order to view PDF documents, you will need to have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software installed on your computer