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Nursing Undergraduate Student Library Research Guide: Evaluating information

Information to support undergraduate students as they become proficient users of library resources and services

Reliable information characteristics


Good decisions require reliable information.  Using your critical thinking skills, you can evaluate the information you find to make sure it will provide a strong foundation for your decision.  Reliable information has five characteristics:

·         Accurate   -  Accurate information



contains the factual evidence and conclusions that are the same or very similar to what you’ve seen in other sources on your subject.   It is also based on the author’s credentials, the nature of the publication and the date.



·         Current   Current information has been published recently.  With bioethical decisions, the timing is very important since change is taking place very rapidly.  For example, the July 2nd  issue of Science included a report from scientists at the Venter Institute on their creation of a simple organism.

·         Objective  -  Objective information includes facts and conclusions from evidence.  Information that is biased is intended to persuade or to present one point of view.  With bioethics information, you may uncover a lot of information that presents opinions.  In this case, you might look at the author's credentials and the source of the publication to consider the information's reliability rather than discarding it immediately.

·         Provides balanced coverage  -  The information source discusses all aspects of the subject and to the same level of detail.

·         Authoritative  -  Evaulating information for authority means looking at the author and the publication.

 Other sources for evaluating information:


Cornell University's Olin Library's Critically Analyzing Information Sources

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab’s Evaluating Information Guide

UC Berkeley Library’s Evaluating Resources

Johns Hopkins University's Sheridan Libraries Evaluating Information

Evaluate Web Pages from Widener University






Life Sciences Librarian

Ann Vreeland Watkins's picture
Ann Vreeland Watkins
John Cotton Dana Library
185 University Ave
Newark, NJ 07102-1814
(973) 353-3809

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