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LIBS 300: The Liberal Arts in a Contemporary World

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 vs. Popular Resources page 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 Resources for specific criteria used to analyze websites.

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

Questions to ask when examining a source:

Who is the author? Are they an expert? What are their credentials?
♦ What gives the author the expertise and authority to write on a topic?

What kind of information is being presented: fact or opinion?
♦ Does your assignment require you to summarize different points of view, reference facts, or both?

Where did you find this information: scholarly journal? newspaper? website?
♦ What you need will influence where you find it. For example, following real time updates using Twitter.

When was the information published? Is it relevant, accurate, up to date?
♦ An article titled "New Computing Trends" written in the 1980's may be an acceptable historical perspective, but doesn't represent current  trends.

Why is this information being reported: to inform, to persuade, to advance understanding of a problem?
♦ Research funded by the oil the industry is more likely to support all things oil.