Evaluating Information: Sports & recreation web article

Use What Where or Not at All

Would you use this web article in your assessment?

Information from websites can be very easy to find. Due to the nature of the web, it is very important to evaluate anything that you find before including it in an assignment or essay.

 Anyone can author or publish material on a website. No quality control process is required. 

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't use information from websites, just that you need to apply an evaluation criteria to determine if the information is appropriate to use.

Have a look at the following article found on a website - http://www.recmanagement.com/features.php?fid=201406fe04&ch=3 and determine whether you would include this article in your assessment to support your ideas with the claims made or the statistics or trends in parks and recreation reported.

Screenshot of an online article from a site called 'Recreation Management'. Link to article is in text above image.


Determining the veracity of the claim

Below are some of the prompts that will assist you with determining the veracity of the article and the claims made.

Let's apply a set of criteria for evaluating information to determine how credible this article may be and whether the claims made are supported by evidence from scholarly sources:

  • Authority 

    • Who authored the content and what is their expertise in the field of recreation and parks? Looking at this article the author of the article is unknown and we are assuming the editors of Recreation Management magazine are responsible for compiling the article. There is no indication on the website to find out about the expertise or experience of the editorial team who would have compiled the article or if they are associated with any affiliations. Only the contact details of the magazine's editorial team are available under "Contact us".

    • What type of site is it?  The site is a commercial website (.com) therefore the information presented may be biased, trying to sell or advertise their products or service. In this instance, there are a couple of advertisements appearing on the web page. Looking at the site’s purpose indicate that this is a popular magazine trying to advertise and promote sports, recreation and fitness equipment and supplies.

    • Who is the intended audience? This particular article is aimed at the general public rather than at tertiary students or scholars.

  • Accuracy  

    • What evidence is presented? There is no evidence present to say that article is a well-researched article and that it is a reliable source of information.    

    • Does the site reference other sources?  No references are cited within the body of the article and thus no reference list at the end of the article to indicate any evidence of research literature consulted to verify the claims made. For example, the claim made in the article that "more than half (52.2 percent) are planning to renovate their existing facilities. (See Figure 44.)". When looking at figure 44, there is no reference provided for the data illustrated on the bar graph. In this case, the table or the data provided is not verifiable.

  • Currency 

    • Does the information presented have a "published" date, or when was the last time the site was updated? The article was published in June 2014 comparing the Parks and recreation trend between 2011 to 2012 that was available from the 2013 Industry report (figure 43).  Therefore, the usefulness of the information is limited to a certain time period. In addition, even though figure 43 is referenced, the data available from the cited report is not easily accessible so difficult to verify.

  • Relevance

    • Does the information cover my topic in sufficient depth? This can be answered by looking at the assessment task to see what is required or looking at the focus of the task and the topic to be researched on.
    • Does the information meet the marking criteria for my assessment task? Again, depending on the assessment task, it is important to look at the marking criteria or rubrics to see the source of information that you are required to locate and include. For example, look for keywords such as research articles or scholarly resources or literature.
    • Are you looking for a fact or an opinion? Looking at the article and answering some of the questions above indicate that the article is not factual or objective and the sources of information provided are lacking and further linking to the Industry report and information regarding how the report was conducted would have strengthened the claims made.


The verdict

When looking for trends around parks and recreation facilities always look to narrow down which country or region you are looking to find the information or data for.  Look for credible sources such as the census website page of a country, or government or organizational websites conducting research, as well as research articles available through Library's Databases A to Z.

In this scenario when locating trends for parks and recreation, a good suggestion would be to use a more substantiated source of statistical information from the following databases, journals and reliable websites:

Journals (VU staff and student access)