4 Critical thinking and information

Learning Objectives

In this chapter you will learn…

  • How to evaluate information and why this is important
  • What ‘scholarly’ information is and what makes it different to other types of information

Being able to evaluate information is an important part of critical thinking. Critical thinking is an essential skill to develop and apply during your third-level education and will come in useful as a skill for employment and in general for making your way in a world awash with fake news, deep fakes, and misinformation. Scholarly information is not immune – some of the world’s most long-standing hoaxes are rooted in bad science, for example in poorly conducted research that has had to be retracted from scholarly journals.

Evaluating Information

The following video explains the importance of ‘information literacy,’ which is critical thinking applied in particular to the world of information. It explains in greater detail concepts mentioned earlier in this book like ‘currency’ and ‘authority’ as part of a test that you can use to help think through the quality of information, to evaluate it: the CRAAP test.


‘Scholarly’ information is information written by specialists of a particular field, usually someone holding a PhD in that field and who works at a third-level institution. In terms of the CRAAP test, scholarly information scores particularly high on ‘A’ for ‘Authority.’ This is the case not just because it is written by specialists, but because it usually goes through a process of what is called ‘peer-review.’ Peer review refers to when where other specialists in the same field do a thorough check of a scholarly researchers work before it is then published as a journal article, book chapter, or occasionally other formats.

The Information Life Cycle

Watch the following video on the information cycle, which can help to better understand scholarly information in the context of other types of information like social media and the news. This video was created by University of Las Vegas (UNLV) Libraries.


[Recreate following in H5P? https://guides.osu.edu/ld.php?content_id=41522859]


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First Year In: FYI by NUI Galway Academic Skills Team is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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