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Key Academic & Digital Information Skills Framework

A guide for academic staff

evaluating information

Being able to critically evaluate information sources is another key skill, and students need to understand how to be selective, and be able to make informed decisions about the quality of information, its reliability, authority, accuracy, potential bias, and the role it plays in their studies.

  • Recognise the limitations of Google and Wikipedia for the purposes of academic study  

  • Understand the difference between a primary and secondary source  

  • Use criteria such as bias, authority, currency, validity etc to evaluate the quality of information (print & electronic) & identify the strengths, weaknesses and potential gaps in source material 

  • Distinguish between good quality and other sources  

  • Understand how paywalls and subscriptions may affect the availability of information, and that searching algorithms can prioritise certain information 

  • Seek multiple perspectives and viewpoints during information gathering and assessment  

  • Recognise the choices you have made in your use of sources, and understand how currency, relevance, accuracy, authority, reliability and purpose of these resources has influenced your decisions  

  • Understand the importance of peer review process for journal articles and how this affects academic credibility  

  • Have a basic understanding of the timescales involved in the publishing process and how this affects the currency of information  

  • Compare and contrast the evidence, assessing any gaps or weaknesses  

  • Use tools available in databases such as Scopus to view document level metrics to identify the impact and influence of particular authors, publications etc to help select and evaluate information 

  • Clearly define the scope of a research question and apply relevant criteria to filter large quantities of information  

  • Use advanced methods, such as a systematic review to answer your research question  

  • Follow the development of an area of research, comparing & contrasting evidence, and synthesising information to form connections and build your own arguments  

  • Articulate and justify the decisions you have made in choosing and using sources appropriate to your information needs  

  • Reflect on the research process, assess whether the information need has been met and redefine as necessary