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Basic Research in Sociology and other Social Sciences

Basic research skills and resources in sociology and other disciplines of the social sciences including evaluating sources, journal articles, statistical information and websites.

Questions you should ask of every source you find

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 her/his credentials?
  • Has the author been cited in 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?
  • Is the site edited, or does it contain typographical errors (for web resources)?

Audience

  • Who is the intended audience (students, researchers, trades people, children, adults)?
  • 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 source contain assumptions not backed by research?
  • Does the sponsoring organization or site have a stake in how information is presented?
  • Does the information contain advertising?

Evaluating Sources - University of California, Berkeley

Evaluating Sources
University of California, Berkeley Library

Peer-review Journal vs. Scholarly Journal

A peer-reviewed or refereed journal is one in which manuscripts submitted by authors are reviewed by experts on the topic before being accepted for publication in the journal.   

 Articles in some scholarly and professional journals are not peer-reviewed, but are selected by an editor or board.  So all peer-reviewed journals are scholarly; but not all scholarly journals are peer-reviewed.

Peer-reviewed journals can be identified by their editorial statements or instructions to authors and in sources such as our  Journal Locator.

Evaluating social media sources

Evaluate a Movie or Video

How to Evaluate a Movie, Video or Film Clip
A good web page by Naomi Lederer, Colorado State University Library.
Naomi.Lederer@colostate.edu