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Linguistics: Evaluating Information

Page Contents

2 ways to evaluate resources you find -
  1. Evaluating Criteria (asking critical questions)
  2. Data, Argument, Background (Deciding what kind of information you need and what information the resource can provide.)
Using journal impact factors to evaluate an article or journal
3 ways to identify a peer-reviewed source
Fake news - 7 types of mis- and disinformation

Evaluating Criteria

Evaluate any source you find by looking at these 5 areas and asking these questions.

Evaluation Criteria

Using a Source

Research papers will often require you to use a variety of different types of sources. Once you have found sources on your topic, it's important to understand the types of information a source provides to you. Each of your sources must help you address/answer your research question in some way. A general way to categorize these types of information is by considering if a source provides data you can analyze, arguments you can engage with, or background information to contextualize your topic.

Ways to Identify a Peer Reviewed Source

• Use a database
Databases have tools that can help you narrow results to scholarly and/or peer review
• Google the source/publication title
–Journal information
–About this journal
If you Google the source/publication title and go to their webpage, look for Journal Information or About This Journal and it will tell you if it is scholarly, and/or peer-reviewed.

Ulrich's is a database that has information on every published journal.  To check a publication title, search for its title and look for the icon above.  That signifies it is Refereed AKA peer reviewed.


Journal Impact Factors

Impact Factors are used to measure the importance of a journal by calculating the number of times selected articles are cited within the last few years.  The higher the impact factor, the more highly ranked the journal.  It is one tool you can use to compare journals in a subject category.


NOTE: Impact Factors are useful, but they should not be the only consideration when judging quality.  Not all journals are tracked in the JCR database and, as a result, do not have impact factors.  New journals must wait until they have a record of citations before even being considered for inclusion.  The scientific worth of an individual article has nothing to do with the impact factor of a journal.


Sample from Journal Citation Reports Database

* You can select Current Year or All Years


Stop Calling It Fake News

It's not just fake news. Information is more nuanced than that.  Here's what you need to know:

  • Mis-information is when false information is shared, but no harm is meant.
  • Dis-information is when false information is knowingly shared to cause harm.
  • Mal-information is when genuine information is shared to cause harm, often by moving information designed to stay private into the public sphere.

7 Types of Mis- and Disinformation

Mis- and disinformation graphic from Information Disorder.


If you are able, listen to the podcast episode and/or read the full report below:


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