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Introduction to Research

Evaluating Sources Checklist

Carefully evaluate each source you find to determine if it is appropriate for your research. Previously, we discussed how academic journal articles can be distinguished from other types of periodicals. Here is a checklist for criteria used to judge information sources, particularly books.

Evaluating Sources Checklist

Purpose Why was the resource written? Was the author's purpose to inform, persuade, or to refute a particular idea or point of view?
Audience Is the resource intended for the general public, scholars, professionals,etc.
Authority What are the author's qualifications? Consider author's educational background, past writings and experience. Is the author associated with an organization or institution? Who is the publisher? Are they well known? Does any group control the publishing company?
Accuracy Is the information covered fact, opinion, or propaganda? Facts can be usually verified. Opinions evolve from the interpretation of facts. Are the author's conclusions or facts supported with references?
Timeliness When was the information published? Is the date of publication appropriate for your topic?
Coverage Is it relevant to your topic? Is the topic covered in depth, partially or is it an broad overview? Does the resource add new information, update other sources or substantiate other resources that you have consulted?
Objectivity Does the author present multiple viewpoints or is it biased? How do critical reviews rate the work?

 

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating your sources is a crucial step of the research process. You need to evaluate carefully each source to determine its appropriateness and quality.

Check our Evaluating Sources Checklist for criteria used to judge information sources and our Scholarly and Popular Resources list to distinguish between scholarly and popular publications.

It is particularly important to evaluation information that you find on the Web. Because there are no rules and anyone can post a page on the Web, you will have to determine whether the web site is of value.

Go to Evaluating Web Sources for specific criteria used to analyze websites.

Check our Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from Other Periodicals information in order to evaluate periodicals by looking at their content, purpose, and intended audience.