Remember the Information Super Highway? Things have changed and we are now dealing with the Information Super-Dooper Highway, as my daughter might say. Information is so ubiquitous, that you can even find it under a rock!
It is no longer so much a question of trying to find information, but it is rather a question of trying to find reliable and trustworthy information.
With this task in mind, it is possible to pose a few questions to form a path forward.
1. Does the information source reside within the library's collections?
The library endeavors to collect sources of information that are vital for student program success, and have met an initial criteria for reliability. In the library, we corral sources of information, and build collections from them, separating them from the Wild West of information. The Internet, on the other hand, is the open range of leading edge research, facts, opinions, values, propaganda, fake news and hate.
When you draw upon sources of information within the library's (online) collections, the labor of ascertaining the credibility of the information has already begun!
In making the decision to step outside of the library collections for some of your project research, you can initiate your own reliability process. This involves asking two other questions of the information source.
2. Is the author(s) of the information source knowledgeable about what they are saying?
3. Are the human voices behind the publishing organization knowledgeable about what they are saying?
We should always keep in mind that there is a human(s) behind the words of the information source that we encounter, and it is our responsibility to verify the reliability of what we internalize. It is also incumbent upon authors to take responsibility for the things they have to say, and it is the responsibility of the individuals tasked with publishing to also assume responsibility in their professional areas.
In the next box, Internet Searching, we will apply this reliability process.
Evaluating information sources is a component of the larger activity of thinking critically about information. To assist with this bigger task, I have put together three related guides. While you may learn some things about the pandemic, an assassination, and the idea of two-spirit, these guides are all connected by the theme of thinking critically about information. Investing time and energy in critical thinking will better inform your own research practice.