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Critical Analysis of Information: Author, Audience & Objectivity

This resource was designed to help you critically evaluate information from a variety of sources, but focuses on scholarly artifacts including peer-reviewed journals, guidelines, and books.

Author Resources

Author

When evaluating information, a crucial first step is to evaluate the author considering what makes the author an expert on the topic in which they are writing.  Keep in mind the following attributes:

  • Author Credentials:
    Where does the author currently work and where did they have previous positions? When and Where were the degrees completed? What else has the author published and in what areas?
  • Author Impact:
    Is this author cited by other researchers?  There are several sources for this information including Web of Science, ISI's Highly Cited, and COS Scholar Universe.
  • Author Affiliations: 
    Is the author affiliated with a recognized institution or organization?

Objectivity

Some important considerations:

  • Is the writing free of bias and emotionally charged language?
  • Are the arguments well supported in the research?
  • Beware of interpretation, especially as authors interpret their research results?  Do the interpretations make sense given the data or are the authors "stretching" to make conclusions?

Audience

Some questions to consider when evaluating the auidence of a document:

  • Is the document aimed at generalists or specialists?
  • Is the content and language appropriate the audience and easy for you to understand?
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