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Information Skills: 9: Evaluating


This is the time to determine whether you can conclude your search for information because you’re satisfied with your search results, or whether you need to go through the cycle again, perhaps using different search terms or terms that have been delineated more or less precisely.

Your search may have delivered many results, but are they relevant and do they answer your search query?

Or your search result may be relevant, but you may have missed other relevant information.

When evaluating your search query and search result, you can ask the following questions (Sieverts, 2008):

Have I missed relevant information? If so, why?

-    Not the right information source
-    Combined too many elements from your search query

-    Typos or spelling errors

-    Searching with quote marks proved too limiting

-    Many possible variations in spelling

-    Overly general
-    Difficult-to-specify


Do my search results contain irrelevant information? If so, why?

-    Not enough terms used for best-match search
-    Not enough elements combined in Boolean search

-    If two words appear in a text, they are not always necessarily linked

-    Words with multiple meanings used

-    Search engine looked for word variants that you didn’t want

-    Forced to leave out element that was too difficult to specify

-    Many meaningless words in the full text