Reference Source Evaluation
The kinds of questions that should be raised in evaluating a reference book or article should be stated in simple terms to be able to have a pure understanding on each source to be evaluated. Theoretically, there are eighteen points to consider in making a good evaluation or judgment about a particular reference work. But here, we would just focus on four major questions or points on reference source evaluation. Firstly, is the reference source accurate?
A reference book, in particular, is of little value if the information which it contains is not accurate. It is not always easy to determine how accurate information may be but simple tests based on one’s knowledge, especially if you have any expertise in the subject, and a comparison with information found in other sources are reasonable ways of judging accuracy. Secondly, is the source, reliable? The qualifications of the author, contributors, and the publisher are sometimes an important aspect of evaluating the quality of work.
If they are recognized experts in a field, and have written and/or published other works on the subject, which have been well received, then perhaps it may be presumed that they know something about the subject. Thirdly, is the source complete? It is important to know, and here too a comparability test can be of value, whether or not the material that should be included in a particular reference book is there and whether or not the subject, as defined by the author, has been covered completely and thoroughly.
Lastly, and most importantly, what is the source’s content? It is above all the content of the book, and a general impression of the content and its overall value, that is likely to be the primary consideration in evaluation any reference source. All of these elements in evaluating reference sources must be taken into consideration and must be placed in perspective that relates to a particular situation where one selects it for use in seeking particular information.
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