Construction Management & Civil Engineering

Evaluating Sources

The process of evaluating information sources uses the same concepts as those that govern day-to-day activities in construction. Pay particular attention to the following attributes:


Just like it's important that you're referencing the most current version of construction codes when completing a project, you want to make sure that your information sources are current. Check to see when a source was published or revised. If older, question whether our understanding of the concept has advanced since it was published--if so, seek out more current sources that reflect this new understanding.


You are probably familiar with authoritative documents (codes, standards, laws, etc.) that we must follow in construction. These are typically constructed by governing bodies whose intent is to standardize materials or processes, and they are contextual in the sense that different localities may adopt different code requirements.  Authority should also be considered with regards to information sources. In this case, members of a discipline construct what authority means--which individuals and resources have authority. It's also contextual in the sense that your need for information at a given time will determine who has authority--looking for best practices regarding electrical rough-ins doesn't necessarily dictate a need for an article published by an electrical engineer.

Ask yourself what information you need. Consider if the source meets that need. Then, look into whether the person writing the source has proper credentials (academic or professional)? Have they written or presented on this topic before? Do others recommend/cite their work? Is the publication known and respected? If you answer yes to these questions, your source likely has authority. 


There is more than one way to tie a shoelace. What is important is that the same result is achieved each time. Consider if the results of your source be replicated? If not, keep looking.

Further resources - evaluating sources

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