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Basic Research Guide

English 1000

Evaluating Sources

Why evaluate?

  • Not all authors have strong academic credentials
  • Not all information is vetted or reviewed before publication, especially on the Internet
  • The amount of Information - in books, articles, web, radio, tv, etc. - can get overwhelming unless you critically evaluate and filter sources
  • Your professors want you to use scholarly information, but not all information is scholarly

urrency The timeliness of the information.

  • Check the date of publication.
  • Look for updated or revised information.

elevanceDetermine if the information relates to your topic.

  • Check the title.
  • Read the summary/abstract.

uthority: The source of the information.

  • Check the author/publisher/sponsor.
  • Do a brief search on the author to determine if they are qualified to write on the topic.
  • Check the domain to determine the origin of the site (ex: .gov, .edu, .com, etc.)

ccuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of information.

  • Is the information supported by evidence? Check for citations and bibliography.
  • Determine if the publication is peer-reviewed.
  • Look for spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors.

P urpose: The reason the information exists.

  • Why was the information written: to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?
  • Determine if the information is fact, opinion, or propaganda.
  • Check for political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases.
  • Determine the intended audience.

Website Evaluation Example