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Evaluating Sources: Criteria

It is important to investigate and evaluate all sources. Whether a Web site or in paper, the same criteria basically apply for both.

GENERAL EVALUATIVE CRITERIA

How to identify valuable sources for your research? Evaluate each source for...

Accuracy

  • Can you verify the information presented using other sources like encyclopedia articles, government documents, statistical data, or primary sources?
  • Are other researchers citing this source?

Audience

  • Who is the intended audience (scholars, the general population, a specific group) ?
  • How do your research needs compare with those of the intended audience?

Authority

  • Who is responsible for the presentation of this information? (publisher, funding agency, etc.)
  • What are the author's credentials? (education, institutional affiliation, previous research, honors, etc.)
  • Is the publication from a reliable publisher? What is the domain?

Bibliography

  • What sources did the author use in preparing this presentation?
  • What is the scope of the research presented?

Bias

  • Does the author offer evidence, in the form of primary and secondary sources, to support his/her assertions?
  • Is the information over-simplified and emotionally charged or logically investigated?
  • What is the author's intent? To inform, persuade, sell, entertain?

Currency

  • How is this source positioned within the current conversation surrounding your topic?
  • How does this source build upon previous scholarship?

Depth

  • How deeply does the author explore the subject matter?
  • Does the author meet the goals defined in the abstract or introduction?

Relevance

  • What will this particular source add to your research?
  • Does the source inform your argument, or answer questions posed by your topic.
  • How does this source work with the other resources you will be using?

GUIDES FOR EVALUATING SOURCES

  Evaluating Sources of Information 
       OWL at Purdue

  Critically Analysing Information Sources
         Cornell University Libraries

CAREFULLY EVALUATE EVERY SOURCE!

Photo: Studying by Mer Chau