The 6W's ask you to consider a source of information and how it relates to your research and assignment.
Who is the author?
- Identify any credentials the author has that make him/her an authority
- If an individual author is not named, who is the editor or sponsor?
- If the source is a web site, is there a link to a "home page" to see who is sponsoring the page?
- Can you detect any conflict of interest or potential bias in this author?
What type of document is it?
- Is it: Opinion, news article, review, report, research study, popular article, scholarly article, blog post, peer-reviewed article, statistical analysis, corporate document, government document?
When was the information published an/or updated?
- What is the date of publication?
- Is the topic time-sensitive so that you can only use the most updated information or is your topic more historical?
- When in the Information Cycle was this published?
Where was the information published?
- In a scholarly journal, newspaper, popular magazine, encyclopedia, book, website, corporate or commercial site?
- Is the publisher a known and respected source of information?
- If the source is a website, check the domain name for clues (.edu, .org, .com, .mil, .net, .gov)
- Is there an "about" link from the homepage that outlines the purpose of the site? Are they trying to sell something?
Why was the information created?
- Who is the intended audience? General audience, scholars, etc.
- Is the author looking to inform, to persuade, to entertain, to share a point of view?
- Was the author paid by a third-party that may be considered biased?
How was it written or produced?
- How did the author gather data? Did the author:
- gather data or information from credible outside sources;
- incorporate in-text citations and a list of references or works cited;
- present supporting pieces of data, sources, citations, quotes, personal experience, a reliable methodology.
- If there's not an actual "works cited," are there any internal references to credible sources? Do these sources supplement the information given? Do the links work?
- Did the production of this information go through a vetting, editing, or peer review process?