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How to Evaluate 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.


  • 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  • Is some of the information obviously out-of-date?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? 


  • 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?


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

Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Avoid It

Plagiarism What it is and how to avoid it

What it is:  Plagiarism is using another person's work without acknowledgment, making it appear to be one's own.

How to Avoid it: Ideas, words, pictures, or other intellectual content, taken from another source must be acknowledged in a citation that gives credit to the source.

This is true no matter where the material comes from, including the Internet, other students' work, unpublished materials, or oral sources.

Intentional and unintentional instances of plagiarism are considered instances of academic misconduct and are subject to disciplinary action such as failure on the assignment, failure of the course or dismissal from the university.

It is the responsibility of the student submitting the work in question to know, understand, and comply with this policy.

Some Examples of plagiarism if no citation is given:

  • an idea or opinion, even when put into one's own words(paraphrase)
  • a few well-said words, if these are a unique insight
  • many words, even if one changes most of them
  • materials assembled by others, for instance quotes or a bibliography
  • an argument
  • a pattern of ideas
  • graphs, pictures, or other illustrations
  • facts
  • all or part of an existing paper or other resource

(This list is not meant to include all possible examples of plagiarism)