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Information seeking

Evaluating the search results and source criticism

After finding different source materials for your work, take a few more time to evaluate the material before you start working on an assignment or thesis. By considering the questions below, you can specify for yourself which sources you find are, for example, still current and which meet the criteria for scientific or research. On this page you can also help consider copyright and ethical use of information. You can find the Xamk referencing guide on the Xamk online guides front page.

How to identify the best and most relevant sources of information from the abundance of information available?

You can reflect on the relevancy of materials by answering the questions listed below. Always remember to apply source criticism.

The topicality and timeliness of information

  • When was the publication published?
  • Has the information been checked or updated?
  • Must the information related to your topic be recent or can older information be relevant too?
  • Do the links work?

The relevancy of information

  • Is the information related to your topic or does it provide answers to your questions?
  • Who is the information directed at? What is its target group?
  • Is the information appropriate regarding your topic and assignment, e.g. the need for scientific research sources versus professional knowledge?
  • Have you familiarized yourself with several sources before deciding which one to apply?
  • Can you refer to the source of information e.g. in your thesis?

Who is the information provider, the author of the source?

  • Who is the author of the information source, its provider and its publisher?
  • How well-known, credible or scientific is the author or provider of the information? What is their backing and interest?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic in question?
  • Can you find contact information of the author within the source, such as the name of  the publisher or an email address? 
  • Is the web address related to the author or source? Does it, for instance, end in .fi, .com, .org, .edu etc.

The credibility, truthfulness and accuracy of information

  • What is the source of the information?
  • Is the information evidence-based, i.e. is it backed by other (research) information?
  • Is the information reviewed? Is it, for example, refereed aka peer-reviewed?
  • Can you also confirm information from another source or by your earlier knowledge about the subject?
  • Is the language and tone of the source neutral and objective?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose of information

  • What is the purpose of the information: to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Is it clear what the purpose or goal of the author is?
  • Is the information based on facts, an opinion or propaganda?
  • Is the author's point of view objective and impartial?
  • Are there any political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases behind the information?

Souce: Evaluating Information – Applying the CRAAP Test Meriam Library. 2010. California State University, Chico. WWW Document. Updated 17.9.2010. Available  at https://www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf. [Accessed 2 Aug 2018].

Copyright, licenses and plagiarism

Be sure to respect copyright and use the information you find ethically

When using text, images, music, videos, or anything else makes as source material, it is worth remembering that these are protected by copyright, which is automatically generated by the author. So you cannot use the works of others as your own without the right holder's permission. The material made by the other may to some extent be used directly on the basis of the so-called right of citations, but the original source must also be mentioned. As a rule, in (scientific) writing, source materials are referenced, and the thing is told in their own words. In this case, it is important that sources are referred to both within the in-text as source references and in the list of references at the end. The original source must be mentioned whenever you take information and thoughts from another source in your text, whether printed or electronic (book, magazine), picture or text, or, say, teaching slides. In the Learn more -section below you will find links to the Copyright and Responsible Research pages.

Don't plagiarise but use source references

The source reference tells the reader which part of the thoughts in the text are your own and which are borrowed from others. If source references are not clearly marked in the text, you may be guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism commonly refers to the unauthorized copying of another text, thoughts, or ideas. More often than not, plagiarism is not done intentionally but is unintended. By learning the correct source reference techniques right at the beginning of your studies, you avoid plagiarism doubts. Xamk's source citation instructions can be found in the online source reference guide.

The University of Applied Sciences in Southeast Finland has a source identification program Turnit (ex. Ourginal), through which most of the study assignments are checked, as well as all theses. With Turnit, it is possible to find out the origin of the sources and the accuracy of the source references and thus prevent plagiarism. More information about Turnit can be found in Lux.

Learn more about copyright, CC licenses, ethical use of information and fake news

Always pay attention to copyrights when using material produced by others

Always remember to comply with copyright when using material produced/made by others as part of your own work. Below you will find links to various sites where you can get help with copyright issues.

Are you familiar with Creative Commons aka CC-licenses?

Under the Creative Commons, or CC-licence, the author can express the ways in which they wish to distribute rights to their work. So you can either define how your material can be used further, or the license will tell you how you can use the material made by others. Creative Commons helps you legally share your knowledge and creativity to build a more equitable, accessible, and innovative world. Licenses consist of six different license types. You can read more about the CC-licenses from the link here.

Do you know how to use information responsibly and ethically? Do you recognize fake news?

Here you will find links to various places where you can find more information about the responsible use of information and tools for identifying fake news and other incorrect information.

how to spot fake news

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