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Introduction to Research: Humanities and Social Sciences

Evaluating Sources

 In a world of ubiquitous information, critical evaluation is essential. Use this CRITICAL guide to determine if a source is appropriate for your research and to prompt you to think about how you search for and select research materials. This guide supports our commitment to decolonizing information literacy and our focus on I-EDIAA (Indigenous, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Anti-Racism, and Accessibility).  


  • Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda? Facts can be verified through comparison to several sources. Opinions evolve from the interpretation of facts.
  • Are the author's conclusions or facts supported with references? 
  • Do the authors / sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information within the scope of your topic? Refer back to your research question or central goal.
  • Does it offer new perspectives (e.g., historical, political, cultural, social, racial, gender, sexual)
  • Does it offer different voices, conflicting viewpoints, or other ways of knowing?
  • Please be aware that library collections encompass works that portray offensive perspectives, serving to document them as evidentiary sources and facilitate ongoing critical analysis of the past and present.
  • Why was the source written?
  • Was the author's purpose to inform, persuade, or to refute a particular idea or point of view? 
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
  • Is the date of publication appropriate for your topic?
  • Is currency important or are historical perspectives needed?
  • Does your work need a chronology of events over time?
  • Is it important to include seminal works, regardless of date?
  • Does the source bring an equity lens to the topic?
  • Are aspects of I-EDIAA addressed? (Indigeneity, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Anti-Racism, and Accessibility)
  • Does the author present multiple viewpoints or is it biased?
  • Does the author situate their own positionality? (i.e., their privilege through race, education, income, ability, gender, etc. as a means of framing their research interpretations)
  • Does the source address your topic in depth, only partially, or is it an broad overview? Different levels can be useful.
  • Is the source a useful as a single example or case?
  • Does the source add new information or update other sources?
  • Can the source be cited to substantiate or refute other resources that you have consulted?
  • Consider the author's background, writings, experience, and positionality.
  • There are subject authorities beyond those writing in scholarly journals. For example, Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers are recognized for their expertise.
  • Is the author associated with an organization, institution, cultural, or community group?
  • Who is the publisher? Does it represent the views of specific groups?
  • How is the writing acknowledged by others in the field or community? How do critical reviews rate the work?
  • Are some types of references privileged over others? Does the information draw on collective expertise from a diverse group?
  • Who benefits or is empowered from this perspective?
  • What is the reading and analysis level of the source?
  • Does it align with your knowledge of the subject?
  • What level of evidence is provided in terms of citations or data? 
  • Is the resource intended for the general public, scholars, or professionals?

Evaluating Other Resources

Evaluating your sources is a crucial step in the research process. These guides will help you: