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Evaluating Information

Is your information credible ?

A good research assignment starts with S.T.A.R. quality information. 

Evaluate the quality of the information sources you find using the S.T.A.R. criteria





  • Who is the author?
  • Who is making the information available?
  • What are their credentials or qualifications?
  • What makes them an authority on this subject?
  • Is the source biased or expressing opinion or trying to sell something?
  • Choose sources that are credible and relatively objective.


  • When was the information published or last updated?
  • Does the date of publication matter to your assignment?
  • For example, if you are working on a current event, or a science or health topic, you will need something that has been published recently.
  • If you are working on a historical topic, currency may not be as important.


  • Is the information free of spelling, grammatical and technical errors?
  • Where did the information come from?
  • Look for information or references that can be verified.


  • Does this information meet the requirements of your assignment?
  • How will it help answer the question you are asking?
  • Choose information that will help you build a strong argument, illuminate concepts, or provide the best evidence.

Types of Sources

Evaluate the Sources Activity

You are writing a research paper on gun control in the United States.

Using the STAR test, answer whether each of the following sources would be useful for your assignment. Why?

"Gun Control, Legislation" in the Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Violence from Gale Virtual Reference Library database

"Keep Off the Grass!: An Alternative Approach to the Gun Control Debate" from Academic Search Complete database

"Gun Laws" from the NRA-ILA website

"Gun Laws in the United States by State" from Wikipedia

(Please note: Off-campus NorQuest students will need to log-in to access the first two links.)

Review Questions

  1. Your instructor asked you to explore a controversial topic with opposing viewpoints in the media. What sources should you use? [Answer]
  2. You have to write an essay on Canada's ethnically diverse population. What information will you need and where can you find it? [Answer]
  3. You must write a research paper on the economics of healthcare in Alberta. What sources should you use? [Answer]

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