Evaluating information

So you have found some information on your topic. But how reliable is it? This page offers tips on how you can evaluate the usefulness of the information you have found.

Why do you need to evaluate your search results?

There are two main reasons:

  • Quality control  - anyone can publish on the web, so there is little quality control, and information is often inaccurate and/or out-of-date.  Likewise, anyone can contribute towards Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia.
  • Reviewing the success of your search - careful evaluation can help you produce better work, raising your marks; evaluate badly or not at all and you can lose marks.

Five questions to ask when evaluating the quality of your results

Reviewing the success of your search

Examine your search results carefully and see if they are what you were hoping for.  If you are not happy with the results, don’t give up!  A successful search will often take several tries. You can usually refine your searches by adding new terms which spring to mind once you have seen your initial results; or you may choose to limit your results if you feel you have retrieved too many.

Always remember to look at the "Help" or "Search tips" pages offered by the particular database or search engine you are currently using.  Also, check to see what it covers.

If you continue to find poor results, you should consider using a different database or search engine.

Further help

For further help on evaluating your search results, contact your Subject Librarian.

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