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Evaluating Sources

Doing Annotations the Otis Way


Any source of information can be evaluated, whether it is a scholarly article or an Instagram post.

Learning how to evaluate a source will help you create better work, write better papers, and be a better friend. When you take a step back and consider the source, you may realize that the information is out of date or is a hoax. It might even help you from embarrassing yourself on social media.

Whenever you consume information, you make unconscious judgments about its credibility and accuracy. Use information literacy to sharpen your skills in evaluating information.

Basic questions to ask yourself:

  • Who made it and why?
  • Who published it and why?
  • Why do you trust the creator and/or publisher?
  • Who is the targeted audience?
  • When and how was it distributed?
  • How accurate was the information when it was created?
  • Has anything changed since it created or published that give it a new perspective or meaning?
  • How much of a topic does it cover?
  • Why is it relevant to me?

Most of the answers to these questions are subconscious judgments.

Writing out why you chose to use a specific source will help you recognize your own biases and limitations as well as help you improve your information literacy skills. With Annotations done The Otis Way, you make explicit the reasoning of your choices, how much you trust a source, and why.

Information Literacy will help you look at how the information is created, packaged, transmitted, and then put itl into context.

Citations vs. Annotations

Citation = Information on where to find the source

Annotation = Explanation for why you are using the source

How to Use This Guide

The pages in this guide match the requirements for writing evaluative annotations.

  • Authority / Credibility
  • Audience / Type of Source
  • Purpose / Point of View
  • Currency
  • Coverage / Score
  • Relevancy

They reflect the core concepts of the Frameworks for Information Literacy. All of these criteria are interconnected, It can be difficult to determine the type of source because it overlaps with the credibility and the purpose /  point of view.

There is also a page with sample annotations of different types of sources.

Criteria for Evaluating Information contains all of the key points covered above on one page, plus additional criteria.

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