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Finding Reliable Resources

Finding reliable resources

On this page you will find ideas on how best to critically evaluate information you encounter. These ideas will help you answer such questions as how credible are the sources I identified?  How scholarly or reliable are they?  How do I make that assessment?

Authority Is Constructed and Contextual

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Though it is not without criticism, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has crafted the following thought on evaluating the information you consume:

Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used.

An understanding of this concept enables... learners to critically examine all evidence—be it a short blog post or a peer-reviewed conference proceeding—and to ask relevant questions about origins, context, and suitability for the current information need.

"Information need" is library jargon for the question or questions you are trying to answer through your research.  Your questions are at the center of your research.  The processes of searching for, finding, accessing, and evaluating what you find all shift in response to how you define, construct, understand, or reframe your questions at any given time.  They are contextual.

This guide helps you understand how to best evaluate the information you find according to your information needs.  It offers ideas on particular points on which information may be often be evaluated, while seeking to remain flexible enough to not offer prescriptions that may cause you to accept or reject information as authoritative or valuable without considering it in the context of your own information needs.

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