When you find a resource that looks relevant to your topic, you must use your critical skills to evaluate it is suitable to include in your essay. Just because it looks good on the surface doesn't guarantee that its content is scholarly or it's author is reliable.
The key criteria that you should look at are relevance, reliability, authority and currency. It is critical that you consider these criteria when identifying sources to use as part of your research.
The sections below outline the key questions that you need to ask to ensure that your information is appropriate to use in a scholarly context.
Authority is a key issue when establishing the quality of a source. Particularly when you're evaluating web sources, establishing who the author is and what their credentials are is critical.
Currency is another key issue to consider when determining the suitability of information for your assignment. Being "current" or "up to date" will mean different things in different disciplines, depending on the rate of change in the particular area of research. It will also mean different things depending on the purpose of your assignment – e.g. are you analysing historical case studies or interviews or do you need the latest statistical data or research in a particular area?
Dates on web pages may indicate:
Broken Links can also indicate a webpage is not being regularly updated.