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UNIV 150

An introduction to library and other resources for students in UNIV 150.

Evaluating Sources

It is important to evaluate the sources you choose carefully.   Consider what you are looking for and why.  Remember: The more credible your sources, the more credible your argument.  

Here are some guiding questions to consider.  It is not necessary that you are able to answer every question, but that you consider each category and make an informed decision as to whether or not the source will help your argument.

Authority

  • What makes the author(s) an authority on this subject?
  • Does the author cite his/her experience/credentials?
  • Is there any way to contact the author? 
  • In what publication/Web site does the article appear?   Who is responsible for the information presented?
  • Is the publication peer-reviewed or scholarly? 
  • Is material taken from other sources fully credited?

Scope, Coverage & Relevance

  • Who is the intended audience? (general, specialized readership, scholars, etc.)
  • Are the content and level appropriate for your assignment?
  • What time period is covered?
  • What geographical area is covered?
  • Is this information a subset of a more comprehensive source? If so, who abridged it and why?

Bias & Accuracy

  • How is the information presented? (fact, opinion, propaganda, etc.)
  • If presented as fact, is it accurate?  Can you find other sources that corroborate the information?
  • Is there a bias? (cultural, political, religious, etc.) If so, is the bias clearly stated?

Currency / Timeliness

  • How recent is the information?  Is it important that the information is up-to-date?
  • Is some of the information obviously out-of-date? Too old for your needs? 

Quality

  • Did it use accepted methodologies for its field, insofar as you know?
  • Is the information clearly written?
  • Is the information presented in an organized manner? Do the links work?
  • Does the author agree or disagree with the majority of other scholars in the discipline?

Commercialism

  • Is the presenter selling something - a product, a philosophy, himself/herself?
  • Does the article/Web site have a corporate sponsor?