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Shapiro Library

Evaluating Sources

This guide will provide you with information that you can use to critically evaluate sources including websites, articles and reports, books and ebooks, etc.

Currency


Evaluating a source by currency means that you are asking: Is the content presented current enough for your project?

When considering the currency of a source, ask yourself:

  • Was this source published recently or is it older? Does your research call for the use of very current sources (e.g. medical research) or can you use older sources (e.g. historical research)?
  • If you are evaluating a website or other frequently updated source, does the website list the date it was last updated and is the date current enough for your research?

Where should you look to determine the currency of a source?

 

Print & Database Sources

  • Date of publication (could be inside front cover of a book, on the detailed record of a resource, on the PDF of an article, etc.)

Websites

  • Look for the last date updated (could be anywhere on the webpage, often at the bottom)
  • Date of publication (if an article or blog from a website--could be near the title/author information)

What to avoid

  • Sources that have been published more than 5 years ago (unless doing research on a topic that requires examination of older materials - check with your professor if you're not sure how current your sources should be)
  • Websites with no "Last Updated Date" or a website with no updates in the past year
Currency Questions
Examples Questions To Ask
MSNBC.com
  • What kind of site is it?
  • Would you expect the information to be up to date?
CIA World Factbook
  • Is the information on this web site up to date?
  • Why is that important?
Travel Daily News
  • Is the information up to date?
  • Why or why not would this be important?