Every day, we’re bombarded with information whether we want to be or not – advertisements, local and world news, groundbreaking research, blogs – the list goes on. With so much out there, it can be hard to determine what information is reliable and what information is for the birds – but with the rise of user-generated content, having the ability to vet and evaluate the credibility of the sources is more important than ever.
Following are a few tips to keep in mind when sifting through all of the clutter:
1) First and foremost, determine how reliable you need the information to be. Everyone is going to have varying standards for credibility, so typically, what the information is ultimately going to be used for should dictate what kind of sources you need.
2) Second, research the author. A source is more credible if someone who possesses a degree and/or credentials, or is recognized as a reputable subject matter expert, writes it. If the author is presenting original work, you can also evaluate the merit of the ideas since credentials don’t necessarily guarantee innovation.
3) Third, find out when the source was published or revised. In some subject areas, having current sources is essential, yet in other subject areas, including older material is necessary.
4) Fourth, as you’re reviewing the information, check for biases and be conscious of words that may indicate judgment. If an author is connected to the subject matter, the source may not represent all views.
5) And finally, evaluate the source’s sources. Citing other reliable sources is a sign of credibility; however it’s necessary to verify that they also show a pattern of credibility and are used in context.