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EVST 230: Biodiversity: Evaluating Information

WATOR: Evaluating Information

As you evaluate, select, and use available resources, consider the following as you weigh their strengths and weaknesses.



Begin with the basics asking the 5 Ws (who, what, where, when, why) and How questions.


  • What do you know about the author(s), publication, publisher?
  • Upon what academic or research credentials do they base their authority?
  • What is their reputation in the chemistry community?


  • What kind of review process has it undergone? 
  • Has the research data been made available for review?
  • Is information presented in such a way that enables, rather than hinders, readers from evaluating the information? 
  • Do the references communicate that the work is academically rigorous?
  • Has any funding information or other conflicts of interest been disclosed?


  • How suited is the research methodology to the research objectives?
  • For whom was this written?
  • Was this written to inform, entertain, encourage sales, etc.?


  • Why might you include this in your academic work? What concerns might you have about citing this?
  • When citing a source, how might you address any concerns you have about that source in your research?
  • How does information from this source complement or challenge other works you are citing?  
  • If this source was written for expert scholars (e.g., academic or professional chemists) rather than undergraduate students, what resources (e.g, handbooks, encyclopedias) might you use as you read this source?

Evaluating Information Sources

Most information sources will not be good or bad, but rather have characteristics that make it more credible and less credible. Learn more from this video by Northern Kentucky University.



Authority is Constructed

Society's politicized treatment of environmental studies reveals how authority is influenced by both information and social context. When citing sources whose authority may be questioned in an academic context, it may be necessary to address its contributions to your research and concerns academic readers may have.