Evaluating sources before you use them in a paper, project or even in every day life for your work or for your own information is very important. Understanding who created the information, why, if it is biased or if you can trust it is vital whenever you need information. The same is true when researching for school, work or even buying a car. Teaching your brain how to think critically about information is a skill that you will need forever. Read on to learn more!
Peer reviewed journals (also sometimes called refereed journals) include only articles that have gone through a process of feedback and iteration before publication. In short, this means that:
Keep in mind that articles from peer reviewed journals are considered scholarly, but not all scholarly articles are from peer reviewed journals (in other words, just because an article was not published in a peer reviewed journal, doesn't automatically mean it isn't considered a scholarly source). For more information, check out these FAQs:
Scholarly sources are written by experts in a particular field that appeal to other scholars/experts/interested parties in that field. Another term for these types of sources can also be academic sources. They can include reports, articles analyzing other research or articles even doing their own research. For more information, check out these FAQs:
Watch the video below to learn how you can tell the difference between popular sources (like those you can find at the grocery store) and scholarly sources.
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, libraries often subscribe to popular magazines like "People" and "Vogue" which are not scholarly sources. For more information, check out these FAQs:
"The Dirty W's" is a quick way to pre-evaluate a source to determine if it is worth evaluating more deeply or for use in everyday life as a quick evaluation method. NOTE: This is NOT a replacement for more in-depth evaluation of websites and internet sources used for academic research and college papers.
Whenever you find a source, ask yourself Who, When, and Why
|"W"||What "W" Means||Questions To Ask||What to Look For|
|Who||Author / Creator||
|When||Date of Publication, Creation, or Last Update||
|Why||Purpose / Reason||
You can use the Dirty W's (3 W's) as a quick pre-evaluation method to determine if sources are appropriate for your research. You can also use this method in your everyday life to become a responsible and effective consumer, producer, and transmitter of information.
For more information, check out these FAQs: