What have I found?
What have I found, and what can I use? A step that teaches you to be critical of the information that you have found. After you have searched and found information, it is important to check whether the information is relevant, reliable, current and complete.
Information is relevant if it can answer your research question. You can ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the information answer your research question?
- Does the information give a general impression? Or does it address exceptions or specific areas?
- Does the quality and level of the information meet your needs?
Information is reliable if you can trust the information to be correct. Credibility and objectivity are important here. Ask yourself the following questions to assess whether the information is reliable:
- What is the source of the information? Is it a book, magazine, database, website? What can you say about the reliability of that source? For websites, also pay attention to the domain name and extension (.com=commercial, .org=organization, .edu=educational institution, etc.)
- Who is/are the author(s)? Are they experts? Is there an editor? Does the author work for an organization, company or institution? When in doubt, look for information on the Internet about the author, organization or publisher.
- What is the purpose of the publication (inform, persuade, entertain, promote, sell)? Is there a client or a sponsor?
Information is current if it corresponds to the current situation. Certain data do not change very quickly, such as food prices on the world market. Whether the information is current depends on your research question and the purpose of the information. You can ask yourself the following questions:
- When was it published? Note: on some websites the date of a page is
automatically adjusted. The information does not have to be up-to-date.
- Is the information still valid? Is the content outdated?
- Is the information still correct? Does it match other sources?
Information is complete when you have considered all possible angles. One hundred percent complete is usually not possible, but you can check if you have not missed any relevant information. Ask yourself the following questions to assess if the information is complete:
- Have all angles been covered?
- Is there is an overview of the sources used (literature list)?
- Are relevant sources or information missing?
The CRAAP test is a widely used - international - tool for assessing information. By scoring the information you found on Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose, you get an indication of the quality of the information.