Research Series: The 5Ws of Good Web Resources

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The 5 W’s to Determine Good Information:

Although this is simplified, asking the following 5 questions will help you determine whether the information you are using is good information or bad information. If someone is providing good information you should be able to answer all 5 questions. If you can’t answer one of the questions or the answer you get isn’t satisfactory, it might not be good information to use.

1. WHO – Who wrote or published the information? Is it someone you have heard of? Is it an organization that you are familiar with?

2. WHAT – What are the author’s credentials? Are they clear about their experience in the subject and how they relates to the topic they are writing on?

3. WHEN – When was the information published? Is it the type of information that changes overtime (Think: Medical Information)? Or is it the type of information that stays the same (Think: History)?

4. WHERE – Where did the author get their information? Are they properly citing their sources? Are they clear on where their facts, statistics, graphs, etc. are coming from?

5. WHY – Why are they publishing this information? What is the author’s motivation? Are they showing a bias?

Need more help deciding if the information you’ve found on the web is appropriate for academic work? Contact the library at NOVA Online-Library@nvcc.edu. Happy Searching!

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