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Research Process: Getting Started: B. Guide to Evaluating Sources

A guide to assist students in conducting research using the wide variety of information sources available to them.

Guide to Evaluating Sources

This chart contains a variety of questions that you should ask yourself when evaluating books, periodicals, and web sites based on five main criteria.

 

Criteria Questions to Ask Yourself When Evaluating:
Currency
  • What is the publication/creation date?
  • Does this time period meet your information need?
  • When was the last update?
  • Are all the links up-to-date? (for web resources)
Authority
  • Who is the author? What are his/her credentials?
  • Has this author been cited in your other sources?
  • Who is publishing this information (individual, non-profit organization, commercial entity)?
Validity/Accuracy
  • Do other sources contain the same information?
  • Is evidence given to support the information?
  • Are other sources cited?
  • If the information is outdated, does it still accurately reflect the knowledge in the field?
  • Are there selection criteria given for the links to other pages and are the links relevant to the topic (for web resources)?
  • Is the site edited, or does it contain typographical errors (for web resources)?
Audience
  • Who is the intended audience (students, researchers, trade members)?
  • Is this source appropriate for your needs and understanding of the topic?
Point of View (Bias)
  • Does the source present the information from a particular bias or single viewpoint?
  • Does the information contain the facts or an interpretation of the facts?
  • Does the source contain assumptions or opinions that are not backed by research?
  • Does the sponsoring organization or site have a stake in how the information is presented?
  • Does the information contain advertising?