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Evaluating sources: Currency

"C" is for currency

Currency refers to how recent the information is.

Common pitfalls

"The newer, the better" is not necessarily true.

Remember that currency is only one of several areas to consider when evaluating a source. Just because a source is current does not mean that it is the best choice for your research.

 "If it comes from the web, then it must be current" is not always true.

Information posted online can be there for several years. It's your job as a researcher to be a detective and hunt for the date that the information was posted or last updated.

Special Thanks

To Tacoma Community College for their Evaluating Sources LibGuide

Questions to ask about the currency of a source

Ask yourself these questions when thinking about the currency of a source and its information:

  1. When was the information published?
  2. Has the source been modified, updated or revised? When did this take place?
  3. If the information is found online, does the Web site have current links or broken links?

Where do I look?

Your tasks:

  • Scroll up and down: dates often appear near the top or the very bottom of a web page
  • Try to determine if a date you've found is for the whole web site or only one portion

Remember the context!

Does it matter if the information is old or new?

Sometimes, the currency of the source is very important. For example, if you are researching about a time-sensitive topic such as a current event, then it's important to find sources that have been published recently. Likewise, if you are searching for information about what restaurant to go to tonight, it's important to use current information. (You don't want to arrive at a location only to find that the restaurant went out of business ages ago!)

Sometimes, though, the currency is not that important!

For example, if you are searching for literary criticism about Shakespeare's plays, then the currency might not matter at all. Criticism written in 1902 about imagery in Hamlet can still be relevant today.

Source Credit

This content was originally created by Tacoma Community College Library and shared with a CC BY SA 4.0 license.