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Nursing and Healthcare Practice Subject Guide

A guide to library and information resources for nursing and healthcare practice students

Evaluating information

Once you’ve found a piece of information, you will be expected to judge its reliability and suitability to be used in an academic assignment.  This page outlines the key things to think about when evaluating information.

Evaluating Information Model

This model will help you to assess the quality of an information source that you have found when searching for information. It encourages you to think critically about how reliable, accurate, up-to-date, valid and relevant it is in relation to your subject. This will help you decide whether or not to select it to use in your academic studies.



Evaluating Information Questions

What is the resource?

Can you identify the type of resource. For example, is it a website or a journal article?

Who is the author?

Can you identify the person or organisation responsible for writing the work? Are they qualified or expert on the subject? If you don't know who is responsible for the work - can you assure that it's credible?

Why was is written?

Can you identify the purpose of the work? For example, is it trying to persuade the reader or does it give a unbiased account? Do you have a thorough understanding of the topic if you only study one point of view?

When was it published or last updated?

Is the information still current to the topic you are researching? If the information is not recent, can you rely on it to provide you with up-to-date information? Evidence from the last 5 - 10 years will be the most up-to-date.

Where is the information from?

Does the author make clear where they got the information in their work from? For example, are they presenting original data or have they provided references. If they have not verified their work with sources, can you trust it?

How is it relevant to your assignment?

Does the work address your research topic in-depth? Is it aimed at an appropriate audience e.g. academics? Have you searched across a range of information to determine that this source is the most suitable to select for your work? If you answer no to any of the above, then even if the resource is good quality, it may not be for you.

Ask Yourself

flag Judge a resource on all the criteria

Sometimes it's not so clear cut whether an information resource is good or bad to use, so remember to look at all the criteria before making a decision.