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How to search for information: Use reliable sources

Evaluation criteria

Reliability

  • Who is the author or producer of the information? Is the author an expert in this particular field? 

 Objectivity

  • Does the author represent an interest group or a particular ideology?
  • Fact or an opinion?

Currency

  • Is the information up-to-date? Do you know when the information was published?

Scope

  • Is the topic covered sufficiently broadly and from different perspectives? Is a perspective missing?

Audience and purpose

  • Who is the information intended for? Experts in the field or the general public?
  • Why has the information been published?
  • What kind of information should you as a higher education student use?

Origin

  • Has someone checked the content? Can you check the information from another source?
  • Are the sources of the information reported?
  • Avoid second-hand sources. Find the original source.

 

Evaluate internet sources with particular care

The same criteria (on the left) can be used to evaluate internet sources. However, it's a good idea to pay special attention to the issues below.

Google finds everything?

  • A large part of internet content cannot be accessed using Google.
  • Search results are not the same for everyone. Your prior internet use will affect the results you are shown.
  • The best source isn't necessarily on the top of the result list.

Opennes of internet

  • Great, anyone can produce content on the net! Keep in mind that the content on internet is not edited or checked by anyone in the same way as publishers check the content of books, newspapers, etc.
  • Pages produced by public authorities and well-known organisations are among the most reliable websites.

Content and purpose

  • What is the purpose of the website? Informing, selling or advertising?

Currency

  • When was the page updated?

Permanence

  • Websites come and go. Is it likely the information and website continue to be available?

Origin of information

  • Can you find information on the author or publisher?
  • URL address can give you information on the publisher of the page.
  • Is contact information provided? Where does it lead to: professional organisation, university or a company?

Copyright

  • Applies also to content on the internet!
  • Find out more

Recommended sources for students

1. Professional information, such as publications of professional organisations (for instance Federation of Finnish Enterprises or  Finnish Real Estate Federation), interviews of professionals or empirical information at your workplace.

2. Official sources, such as data and research published by public authorities: Statistics Finland, Finnish institute of Occupational Healt, Finnish Food Safety Authority, etc.

3. Scientific research articles, reports and doctoral dissertations, in some cases pro gradu theses. Theses from universities of applied sciences are not recommended sources as such. However, you may find ideas for topics or research methods in them. You can also find interesting sources in their bibliographies.

Remember to report your sources!