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Can I Use This?

Can I use This - When

This is the sixth of seven video modules in Langara Library's Can I Use This? Evaluating Your Sources Tutorial. This video examines the "When" criteria of the 5Ws. Use this criteria to determine when the source was created, and also to determine whether your topic requires up-to-date information or not.

Video Transcript:

Depending on your research topic, the source's date of publication may or may not be important. If you are writing on a subject that is time sensitive or changes rapidly, like technology or medicine, sources published beyond a few years ago may be outdated and no longer useful. For other topics, like literary criticism, the age of a source may not be important at all.

Let's go back and do a Google search to see if we can find some recent information about the connection between air pollution and human health from the World Health Organization. Here, we have found a news release from the World Health Organization that may contain some information that will help us with our research topic. It is presented as a web page on the World Health Organization's website.

When was the document published? We can see that this news release was published on March 25th, 2014. Sometimes, web sites will not provide an exact publication date. If a date is provided, you will usually find it at the top or bottom of the page. Luckily, citation guides have special allowances for citing sources when no date is provided.

Now we can ask if our topic requires up-to-date information. Our topic is related to science and health. Current information is going to be extremely useful to us in this case. When dealing with web sites, you may also be able to tell if the information is up-to-date by checking to see when it was last revised. You can also check to see if links on the page are still active or if the sites they link to have been changed or removed. On the Internet, it's easy to publish information. Revisions let us know that the author is still updating information regularly to reflect new developments in the field. Broken links suggest that an author is no longer maintaining a website and the information may no longer be up to date.

Keep these ideas in mind when you're getting sources from Google searches. For some subjects, such as medicine, currency may be very important. For others, such as history, it may be less important. Web sites do not always provide publication dates. Look for other clues, such as active links, to get a sense have whether the information is up-to-date.

In the next module, we will introduce our final W - why which asks us to think about the authors' purposes for writing this document.