Skip to main content

Assignment Essentials: Step 3: Evaluate

Critical Reading

Consider what others have said on the topic (do they provide evidence for their views, how did it relate to other materials you have read on the subject etc.). When you read a number of sources you will get a more complete picture of how to look at a topic from a number of angles.

Identify the useful and weak aspects of an argument – you don’t have to accept everything you read as being 100% accurate – . You’ll start to recognise themes and possible issues, gaps in knowledge.

Include opposing ideas – make sure your own bias doesn’t show!

When it comes to reading non-academic sources in particular (newspapers, websites etc) be aware of:

  • Generalisations (e.g. most people agree…)
  • False assumptions lacking in evidence (Women have always been better at cleaning…)
  • An expert opinion is still just one person’s opinion.

Fact Checking Online Sources

Explains the Stanford Experiment which got different group of people to assess how reliable they thought some websites were. The group of professional fact checkers fared best with a few simple tips – detailed in the other 3 videos

Check the source of the information for reliability 

Go “upstream” to the original reporting source

Look for trusted sources – fact checking sites such as Snopes.com. Rely on established media with professional journalists.

Use the CRAAP Test to evaluate sources

Currency

When was the article, book, or webpage written or updated? The importance of when something was written will depend on what you are writing about. If you are doing an historical look back at something you will want older information included (with information produced at the time of the event, for example). If it’s an examination of current trends or thinking, you will want your information to be as up-to-date as possible. Often you need a mix of both to ensure you have the seminal (ground-breaking, original) articles as well as the current research.
Reliability

Is there any evidence (references to other articles or description of methodology of research conducted) to support the author’s viewpoint? Can the information by verified from other sources? Is the author or publisher biased – do they have a particular stance on the subject? Is the information peer-reviewed?
Authority

Who wrote the article, book, or webpage? Is the author or organization is an expert on this subject? Can you check his/her credentials? For example on the About Us section of the website is it clear who is producing the website and why?

Accuracy

Is there evidence to support the information provided? Can it be verified from other sources?
Purpose

Is the intent of the book, article, webpage to entertain, inform or persuade? Is there a bias? Who is the intended audience?