Reliability of information sources

View the video below before studying the notes below. The video is not tailored specifically to our notes, however it builds a good context for proper use of information sources.

Credit: Western University (

Reliability of information sources

Information is used to make decisions that can impact the long term welfare of organizations or society as a whole.  Information that has been retrieved electronically must be evaluated to be reliable.

On the lowest level of evaluation, we should consider the following criteria:

  • authenticity,
  • currency,
  • relevance,
  • bias

Authenticity (or Credibility)

This refers to the integrity of information or how correct the information is.  Usually, we try to verify gathered information against other sources to establish that the information is accurate.

Credibility refers to the amount of trust we place in an information source being correct.

Established authorities are good sources of verification, e.g Organizations, experts in the field etc.


This refers to the correctness of discrete items in the information source and how complete the information is for it’s application.


This refers to how consistent the information source is over time.  For example, when monitoring temperatures related to climate change we may want to record the temperatures at consistent time intervals.   Even though each individual recording may be accurate and precise, the lack of regular recordings can make the information unreliable when determining trends associated with temperature.

Currency (or Timeliness)

Information should be current, and recent enough to make problem solving and decision making reasonable and reliable.

In problem solving and decision making, all information is considered to have a life span for which it is appropriate.


Information gathered should be relevant to the topic being researched and free from extraneous, cosmetic, and irrelevant details.

It should be appropriate for the tasks of problem solving and decision making.


Gathered information should be free from bias, i.e the information is objective and free from preconceptions.

A reputable institution should support source without bias in the information.[1]

[1] Discovering Computers (2011) pg 92

last updated Tuesday 12th March 2019, Wed 27th Jan 2021

© 2018  Vedesh Kungebeharry. All rights reserved

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