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Youth Cultures: ANTH 0817

Research guide for Prof Juris Milestone's section of Youth Cultures

More Information on Evaluating Sources

  Critically Analysing Information Sources

         Cornell University Libraries

Evaluating Statistics

Statistics are perhaps the most difficult type of information to find.  Here are a few things to think about when trying to find a statistic:

  • Who cares about this information?
    Statistics cost a lot to collect. Who cares enough about the information to collect it? Some of the most common groups who collect statistics are the government, marketers, and associations.
  • The most recent statistic is probably not from this year.
    Because statistics take time and money to collect, the most recent statistic that you are likely to find may be a few years old.
  • Follow the trail.
    Finding statistics can sometimes be an exercise in detective work. Always look at the source of the statistic. If you read an article and it sites a source, consult that source. They may have additional statistics that weren't referenced in the article.
  • Evaluate the source.
    As with all information, you should evaluate the source providing the statistic. Are they biased? Is the group or website reliable? Do they cite the source of the statistic?
  • Read the statistic carefully.
    Be sure to pay close attention to any information provided surrounding how the statistic was collected, etc. You don't want to misrepresent the statistic in an article.

- Content from Alexa Pearce, Librarian for Journalism, Media, Culture & Communication at NYU

Evaluating Sources

This video created by Western University Libraries offers a nice overview on evaluating any kind of source.

General Criteria for Evaluating Sources

Currency
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • How is this source positioned within the current conversation surrounding your topic?
  • How does this source build upon previous schlolarship?
Relevance
  • Does the information relate to your topic or help answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience (scholars, the general population, a specific group)?
  • How do your research needs compare with those of the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (e.g. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
Authority
  • Who is responsible for the presentation of this information? (author, publisher, funding agency, etc.)
  • What are the author's credentials? (education, institutional affiliation, previous research, honors, etc.)
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Is the publication from a reliable publisher? What is the domain?
Accuracy
  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Can you verify the information presented using other sources like encyclopedia articles, government documents, statistical data, or primary sources?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Are other researchers citing this source?
Purpose
  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, persuade, entertain, sell?
  • Does the author meet the goals defined in the abstract or introduction?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and imparial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Evaluate by source type