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Get started with research

Learn how to use the library resources to get started with your research.

Guidelines for evaluating sources

Here are some guidelines to consider when critically evaluating the information you find. It is not necessary to answer every question, rather consider each category and make an informed decision as to whether or not the source will help your argument. Visit the subtopics under this section to learn more about how to further evaluate the authority of sources and the credibility of news sources.

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?
  • Visit the subtopic "Authority is constructed and contextual" in this guide under "Evaluate sources" for more information.

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?
  • Visit the subtopic "How to spot fake news" in this guide under "Evaluate sources" for more information.

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  • Is some of the information obviously out-of-date?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