Information can come from anywhere, anyone, and for any purpose, which means that critical evaluation is an essential part of your research process. The CRITICAL guide helps determine if a source is appropriate and prompt you to think about how your search for, select, and engage you research materials.
- Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda? Facts can be verified through comparison to several sources. Opinions evolve from the interpretation of facts.
- Are the author's conclusions or facts supported with references?
- Do the authors / sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
- Is the information within the scope of your topic? Refer back to your research question or central goal.
- Does it offer new perspectives (e.g., historical, political, cultural, social, racial, gender, sexual)
- Does it offer different voices, conflicting viewpoints, or other ways of knowing?
- Please be aware that library collections encompass works that portray offensive perspectives, serving to document them as evidentiary sources and facilitate ongoing critical analysis of the past and present.
- Why was the source written?
- Was the author's purpose to inform, persuade, or to refute a particular idea or point of view?
- Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
- Is the date of publication appropriate for your topic?
- Is currency important or are historical perspectives needed?
- Does your work need a chronology of events over time?
- Is it important to include seminal works, regardless of date?
- Does the source bring an equity lens to the topic?
- Are aspects of I-EDIAA addressed? (Indigeneity, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Anti-Racism, and Accessibility)
- Does the author present multiple viewpoints or is it biased?
- Does the author situate their own positionality? (i.e., their privilege through race, education, income, ability, gender, etc. as a means of framing their research interpretations)
- Does the source address your topic in depth, only partially, or is it an broad overview? Different levels can be useful.
- Is the source a useful as a single example or case?
- Does the source add new information or update other sources?
- Can the source be cited to substantiate or refute other resources that you have consulted?
- Consider the author's background, writings, experience, and positionality.
- There are subject authorities beyond those writing in scholarly journals. For example, Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers are recognized for their expertise.
- Is the author associated with an organization, institution, cultural, or community group?
- Who is the publisher? Does it represent the views of specific groups?
- How is the writing acknowledged by others in the field or community? How do critical reviews rate the work?
- Are some types of references privileged over others? Does the information draw on collective expertise from a diverse group?
- Who benefits or is empowered from this perspective?
- What is the reading and analysis level of the source?
- Does it align with your knowledge of the subject?
- What level of evidence is provided in terms of citations or data?
- Is the resource intended for the general public, scholars, or professionals?