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Evaluate your sources
When choosing books, articles, websites, and other sources to use for your research, evaluate them to determine whether and how to use them.
The timeliness of the information:
- When was the information published or posted?
- Does the time period that the information was published matter in relation to your topic?
- When was the information last revised? (online often found in the footer area of websites)
- If reviewing a web source, are the links current or are they broken?
Relevance or Coverage
The importance of the information in relation to your topic:
- What is the depth of coverage? Is the information provided central to your topic or does the source just touch upon your topic?
- Is the information unique?
- Who is the intended audience? Basically, is the information at the appropriate level for your research or does it target a different type of audience?
- Is better information available in another source?
Consider the source:
- Can you tell who wrote it? If the author is not identified who is the sponsor, publisher, or organization behind the information?
- Are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations listed?
- Is contact information available?
- Is the source reputable?
The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content:
- Where does the information presented come from? Are the sources listed?
- Are the sources reputable?
- Can you verify the information in other sources or from your own knowledge? Corroborate!
- Does the language or tone seem free of bias or ideologically based arguments?
The reason the information exists:
- What is the purpose of the information? Inform? Teach? Sway opinion? Sell? Entertain?
- Can you determine possible bias? If you can are they clearly stated or do they become apparent through a close reading?
- Does the point of view appear objective?
- Does the site provide information or does it attempt to debunk other information? (Weighing positive evidence versus negative evidence)
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Except where otherwise noted, content in these research guides is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.