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Veterinary Medicine: Websites

Relevant Free Information on the Web

Critical Questions

Here are some questions to guide you through the process of critical evaluation of information sources:

Relevance:
- Is the document related to your topic?
- Is the information at an appropriate depth or level for your assignment?

Authority:
- Is the source a scholarly or popular publication? And is the publisher reputable in this discipline?
- Is the author a recognized authority in this field of study? What are his or her credentials? (And are these credentials related to the subject matter?)
- Do other authors quote from this author's works?
- Is there a means of contacting the author?

Timeliness/Currency:
- When was the document written? (Look for a publication, copyright, or “last updated” date.)
- Is it recent enough to be relevant to your topic or discipline? Sometimes you are required to use recently published material; sometimes you must use historical documents.

Validity/Accuracy:
- Does the author provide sources for statistical information?
- Is the data from a valid study (that utilized accepted methodologies for the discipline)?

Argument:
- Analyze the author's argument, the assumptions made, the evidence or data gathered, and the interpretation of the data.
- Are there any flaws in the author's logic?
- Does the author consider alternate interpretations of the evidence?
- If you discovered that the author ignored other interpretations, is the author attempting to deceive or manipulate readers?

Coverage:
- Does the author refer to relevant information or data that was available at the time the work was published?
- Or, does the author use out-of-date information; or ignore information or data that was available at the time?
- Did the author consider all aspects relevant to the topic?

Bias/Objectivity:
- Does the author state any bias?
- If you discovered any omissions in the coverage of the topic, did this reveal a bias or prejudice?
- Is the author selling something? Do they have a corporate sponsor?