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Guide to information retrieval: Evaluating information

Evaluation criteria

Some criteria for evaluating the quality of information and source criticism are listed below. The criteria apply to both printed and especially electronic resources:


Is the material produced by a known agency, organisation or expert?
Does the creator have authority in the field or topic in question?
Does the URL address of the website tell you who has produced the material?
Can you find an e-mail address or other contact details for the author or organisation responsible for the material online?


The information is thoroughly researched, objective and reliable.
A bibliography is included in online content.
The information can be verified. To confirm the accuracy of the information you can check works listed in the bibliography.
Online content has been reviewed by a third party such as a publisher, editor or peer review.


Is the text content objective or subjective?
Is the information factual or does it represent the author's personal opinion?
Is the information unique, or can similar or more accurate information be found elsewhere?
It is very important that you distinguish factual websites from sites that present claims, opinions, propaganda or discussion threads.

The comprehensiveness of information

Does the material discuss the topic from more than one point of view?
How comprehensive is the information?
How detailed is the information?
Is the information limited to a certain time period? 

Purpose /Aim

Why has the author or publisher published the material?
Why have they chosen to publish it online?

Target audience

Who is the information intended for?
Does the information match your information need?

Alternative information resources

Is the same information available from a different information resource, e.g. in an alternative medium or format? 

Is the information up-to-date?

Does the document have a date?
Is the information current?
Is more current information available somewhere else?
Does the information need updating?
When has the content been last updated?
How often is the content updated?

Is the information well organised?

Does the material include a table of contents?

Is the text clear to look at and read?

Is the text written well and grammatically correct?


Tools for journal assessment

In order to find information on Impact Factor, SCImago Journal Rank etc., the following services are available:

Journal Impact Factor, IF

Journal Impact Factor indicates how often, in the average, a journal's published articles have been referenced during the previous two years by other journal articles during the year of calculation. Journal Citation Reports (JCR), maintained by Thomson Reuters, also provides other scientific journals' evaluation indicators.

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) Indicator

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) Indicator points out  the journals' visibility in the Scopus database. SCImago Journal & Country Rank is a free service for evaluating scientific publications. It may be used for searching scientific journals based on e.g. field of science.

Eigenfactor (EF)

When calculating a journal's Eigenfactor, references have different emphases depending on how high the EF value of the referencing journal has.  is provided as a free evaluation service.

Publication Forum classification

Publication Forum is a classification covering scientific journals and series of various disciplines. The classification includes three levels:  1 = baseline ;  2 = leading level ; 3 = highest level.  Publication Forum is a project carried out by the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies aiming to assess the publication activity as to its' amount and its' quality, as well.

FT Research Rank

Financial Times FT Research Rank provides a list including 50 economics journals. The list is utilized for business schools' ranking(s).