6: How to Evaluate Information

Since the web is a self-publishing medium, anyone can and does publish on the web. Consequently, it's imperative to evaluate the information that you find on the web for authority, currency and relevancy. Remember that academic research assignments require an authoritative bibliography. Learn the criteria for evaluating web sites and how to apply evaluation techniques to books and periodicals, too.

Evaluating The Web - Criteria for Evaluating a Webpage

In the following websites, learn how to evaluate web sites by determining their authority, relevancy and currency:


Unlike scholarly print periodicals and books, where the information is subjected to a process of review, anyone can publish on the web. Many web sites are also designed for commercial purposes and, consequently, are designed to influence!

Evaluating Periodicals

Do you need to use popular magazines and/or scholarly periodicals? They each serve different purposes and are written for specific audiences.

Learn the important differences between various types of periodicals by looking at their format, intended audience, and if possible, their physical appearance.

Does your teacher require that your article be "peer reviewed" or "refereed?" These terms mean that the article must be reviewed by a "jury" of experts or scholars before it is published. Ask a reference librarian to help you determine if a periodical is "peer reviewed or refereed".

Evaluating Books

Learn how to evaluate books by using book reviews to gather critical and other valuable information. Look at these additional points about evaluating books from the UNC Libraries.

Selected Books In The Oakton Library

Check out these books about Evaluating Information:

  • The College Student's Research Companion: Finding, Evaluating, and Citing the Resources You Need to Succeed
    Call Number: (DP) Z710 .Q37 2011; (RHC) RHC. Z710 .Q37 2011
  • Research Strategies for a Digital Age
    Call Number: (DP) REF. ZA3075 .T46 2013; (RHC) RHCREF. ZA3075 .T46 2013
  • Web Wisdom: How To Evaluate and Create Information Quality on the Web
    Call Number: (DP) TK5105.888 .A376 2010; (RHC) RHC. TK5105.888 .A376 2010


Use an online periodical index such as Academic Search Complete to search for articles relating to the importance of evaluating information.


Evaluating the authority, usefulness and reliability of the information you find is a crucial and important step in the research process. Learn the criteria for critically analyzing web sites, periodicals and books for your college level research and you'll also develop your information literacy skills. It's imperative in this age of information over-load!


Cornell University's web page, Critically Analyzing Information Sources, lists some of the critical questions to ask when considering the appropriateness of a book, periodical article, media resource or an online version of any of these.