As you begin your research you will probably find lots of information from many types of sources. When you are in college, and in most professional settings after college, you will be expected to use high quality sources of information for your work. As you gather information for your research projects, you'll find many sources in many formats such as books, articles from databases, Web documents, interviews, videos, and more. Our Evaluating Sources guide can be helpful as you critically examine the sources you find for your research.
Here are five criteria to evaluate the sources you find:
When considering the relevancy of a source, there are several things to ask yourself:
When considering the currency of a source, ask yourself:
When considering accuracy, ask yourself the following questions:
When considering authority, ask yourself:
When considering the objectivity of a source, ask yourself the following questions:
Note: It's okay to use information from sources that contain strong arguments or opinions, but it's always a good idea to acknowledge the author's view.
In most cases, the books you get from the library and articles you find in the library's research databases are usually reliable and credible. These sources have usually gone through a traditional editorial process, which means that someone or some group has checked all the facts and arguments the author made and deemed them suitable for publishing. However, you still have to think about whether or not the book or article is current and relevant for your project--for example, library's often subscribe to popular magazines like "People" and "Vogue" which aren't generally considered scholarly sources.
It is particularly important that you evaluate any web resources you use (e.g. websites, blogs, wikis, etc.) because there is no editorial process for the web and anyone can post anything online. When evaluating web resources it is important to pay attention to details and examine these six main criteria: