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KATHRYN A. MARTIN LIBRARY

American Indian Studies: Evaluating Information & Library Resources

Fall 2016

Evaluating Information

It can be difficult to know what is a quality source and what isn't. Here are a few things to look for when evaluating web resources:

  • Authority and accuracy: Who authored the information? What are their credentials?
  • Intended audience: Is the information directed to a particular group? (researchers, consumers, etc.)
  • Purpose of information: Is the information designed to educate? To market an idea or product?
  • Date created & updated: Is the web site well maintained and recently updated?
  • Contact information: Is it possible to contact the author or institution?

Why Use Library Resources?

It may be tempting to think....Isn't everything on the internet? Can't I just use Google and Wikipedia for my research?

While Google, Wikipedia, and other internet sources can be useful, you don't want to rely on them for your research. Why not?

  • Not everything is openly accessible on the internet. The UMD Library subscribes to and purchases high quality resources that are not available on the internet.
  • Information overload: using a search engine, like Google, often means that you get thousands or millions of results. Library databases are organized in such a way that the results are more manageable. This allows you to find the best resources for your topic quickly.
  • Authority & accuracy: keep in mind that anyone can create or edit an entry in Wikipedia. Anyone can create a website. How will you know if the author is an expert? How will you verify the information?
  • Your professors want to see high quality, scholarly sources cited in your papers. Impress them by using library resources!

Is it ever okay to use Google or Wikipedia?

  • If you need background information about a topic before you research it, looking in a place like Wikipedia can be helpful. You can also find background information and overviews of various topics by using online encyclopedias at the UMD Library.
  • Think of internet resources as a starting point, but NEVER a stopping point. Always go beyond Wikipedia!