The authors of Evaluating Information are perfectly aware that not everyone who studies research plans on doing it professionally. As a result, they have created this book for social science students of all levels of higher education. Evaluating Information teaches us about studying research, not doing research. It urges the reader to take a slow, critical view of information, and points out places where we can find biases and shortcomings in the the research, as well as in ourselves.
One thing I found really helpful about the book was it's structure and layout. Each chapter is written clearly, and assumes that it's audience, although intelligent, probably knows very little about research to begin with. Through the use of cartoons and easy to understand language, they do their best to keep the subject interesting, even when the audience may find it a little dull. Each chapter goes over a specific subject in research, such as statistics or noise, then ends with a summary. At the end of each chapter is a series of evaluative questions, and practice evaluations. The questions are particularly useful. They also have a decent sized list of further reading if you want to learn more. As a result of all of these elements, I found this book to be very informative.
At the same time, Evaluating Information has it's limitations. If you're looking for a really thorough book on research, you may find yourself disappointed, or need to supplement it with another book in your particular field (as my class is doing). This is not necessarily a fault of the book, as it's purpose is merely to provide a general overview of the topic, but it's something people should keep in mind. A more serious limitation would be the fact that the book does need a little updating. This can be seen in some of the language it uses (example, most people use the term “special needs” instead of “retarded” when referring to mentally disabled kids nowadays) which would have been fine for when it was published in 1998, but feels dated over ten years later. The places that needs the most updating are the practice articles in the back of the book, which give the reader a great opportunity to practice evaluating. Although the articles are interesting, one is from the 1970s and one is from the 1980s. Certain readers (particularly young ones) are likely to view them as less important because the research may be outdated. The last two articles were published in the 90s, making them appropriate for the time when the fourth edition of this book was published, but when the authors prepare the fifth edition, I hope they will chose more current articles.
Despite it's limitations, Evaluating Information is a sold introduction to research for students and professionals in the field of social science. In a world where we are inundated with statistics used as ways to sell us products, and get our votes it's nice to have a book that encourages a skepticism instead of blind faith.
Rating: four stars
Length: 297 pages
Source: amazon used
Challenge: This book is part of the New Genre Challenge
Similar Books: For this class, I am also reading Applications of Social Research Methods to Questions in Information and Library Science by Barbara M Wildemuth. It's a nice supplemental text for library/information science students, although it lacks the fun cartoons :)
Other books I've read by this author: This is my first
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