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Information searching

Evaluating online sources

Consider the following questions when evaluating a source you found online:

  • Is the material published on a trustworthy website? Is the site owned by, for example, a university, a research institute, a scientific community, an EU project or some other official organization or authority?
  • Is the author a researcher or specialist within the field? What is their academic background? You can do a search on the person to ensure that they are really an expert.
  • Does the material have a scientific purpose? Is the source or research meant to be read by other researchers, i.e. peers? Is it a part of a scholarly discussion? This indicates that the target group is correct.
  • Is the text written objectively? Does it include strong opinions? Are things being exaggerated? Scientific research is always objective and unbiased, and all facts presented are justifiable and based on research.
  • Does the text include specialist terminology without spelling mistakes? Can you follow the logical thread of the research through theory, methodology, conclusions and references presented in the text?
  • Are the sources used in the material reliable? Are they presented correctly? Is the list of references complete and accurate?
  • When was the material published? Older publications may contain outdated information. Whether the material is up-to-date or not depends greatly on the topic. Are there more recent sources that support the facts presented in the material?

Remember also:

Wikipedia is not a scientific source!
Use Google Scholar instead of Google!
Utilize AI with care!
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