Having information literacy skills means knowing how to find and use outside sources well. This means that you are able to locate the work of other scholars and experts (from library databases, books or journals, or from outside sources like Google Scholar) and incorporate them into your own work. Using your information literacy skills means that you know how to choose sources wisely, and how to evaluate whether a source is “good” or “bad.” It also means that you value academic honesty, and that you are careful about providing attribution via in-text citations and a Works Cited list whenever you use other people’s ideas.
The three sections below provide useful information about using outside sources responsibly.
A. How do you know if your sources are “good”? Ask yourself the questions on this checklist for Evaluating Information from our HCC library:
The CRAAP test is a set of criteria to help evaluate information sources:
When was it written or last updated?
How useful is the information to your needs?
Who is the source of the information?
What is the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information?
Why does the information exist?
B. When using websites, we need to be especially careful to ensure that we are looking at reliable information. Use this checklist for Evaluating Websites, also from our HCC library, to help you make decisions about possible sources:
Evaluating Websites: Evaluating Information Checklist
Here are some basic questions categorized in three sections to help you understand and evaluate the credibility of a website.
|Is the author, whether a single person or a group of people, an expert?|
|Is there a way to contact the author(s) for more information or to verify who they are?|
|Does the author use real, checkable facts to support his or her opinions?|
|Does the author use neutral language, regardless of his or her opinion about the subject?|
|Does the page have a .edu, .org, or .gov ending in its URL?|
|Is there a date that shows when the page was last updated?|
|Is the page complete, containing no broken links or “under construction” pages?|
|Is the page well designed and easy to navigate, without too much scrolling or clicking?|
|Is this information published elsewhere in hardcopy, such as in a newspaper or journal?|
|Is the content of the page well written, with few grammar and spelling mistakes?|
|Is this site appropriate for your needs?|
|Did you make a checklist of what a reliable site about your topic would be like?|
|Will your instructor be impressed when s/he sees this site in your works cited list?|
|Have you looked at at least 5 sites about this topic?|
C. Do you prefer to listen and learn? Listen to this video about “5 Ways to Evaluate Information” from HCC’s librarians.