“Whether you are a journalist, researcher, writer, or someone in the professional fields, it is important to know how to identify real information and use it accurately. That’s our real challenge in the 21st century.” – Lee E. Krahenbuhl, Communication Studies Program Coordinator

With the infinite amount of information online, it can be difficult to decipher what is true and accurate and what is not. Once you know the trick to identifying reliable information, you can quickly determine if what you’re reading is accurate or not.

What is reliable information?

Reliable information must come from dependable sources. According to UGA Libraries, a reliable source will provide a “thorough, well-reasoned theory, argument, etc. based on strong evidence.” Widely credible sources include:

  • Scholarly, peer-reviewed articles and books
  • Trade or professional articles or books
  • Magazine articles, books and newspaper articles from well-established companies

Other sources like websites and blog posts can be reliable but require further evaluation.

You may be asking yourself, “what source is best for me?” Depending on the type of information you need, your sources may vary. For example, if you are writing a research paper about the psychology of communication you want to look at journal articles and research-based reports. This is because those types of sources typically include more information on the topic at hand.

How to identify reliable sources

What makes a source reliable? To determine whether a source is reliable or not you must look at certain criteria. That criteria are as follows:

  1. Authority: Who is the author? What are their credentials? Do they have knowledgeable experience in the field they are writing about? What is their reputation?
  2. Accuracy: Compare the author’s information to that which you already know is reliable. Are there proper citations? Is the information biased? If so, does it affect research conclusions
  3. Coverage: Is the information relevant to your topic and does it meet your needs? Consider what you need such as statistics, charts, and graphs.
  4. Currency: Is your topic constantly evolving? Topics in technology and medical innovation require sources that are up to date.

The importance of reliable information

The internet is scattered with biased, misleading, and altogether incorrect information and that is why it is important to follow the above criteria. The importance of using reliable sources truly boils down to effective communication. If your knowledge is based on unreliable information you will not be a trustworthy asset to your company.

Credible communication is key in business success and that is why you should not just grab any information off the internet. Using unreliable sources results in negative consequences. Credibility is especially important to business professionals because using unreliable data can cause internal and external stakeholders to question your decisions and rely solely on their own opinions rather than factual data.

Hence, using credible sources for information will increase your reputation and trustworthiness. An article by the Ivey Business Journal supports this idea by expressing that trust is a key factor in building loyalty, increasing credibility, and supporting effective communication.

So remember, it is important to develop your skills in identifying reliable resources because it will ultimately help you become an effective communicator and trustworthy leader.

Are you looking to expand your communication skill set? Stevenson University Online’s Master’s in Communication Studies program equips working professionals with the skills to identify and deliver reliable information.

Stevenson University Online offers Bachelor’s and Master’s programs that can equip students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today’s professional landscape. Programs include Business Communication, Business and Technology Management, and Communication Studies. All courses are online, allowing you to continue working while pursuing your degree. For more information, please contact us at suo-inquiry@stevenson.edu or 1-877-531-7118.