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Evaluating Sources: Home

How to determine which sources to use for accurate, professor-approved information.

Why should you evaluate sources?

Not all information is equal! You can write a perfect paper, but if it uses the wrong information and poor sources, you're not going to get a good grade.

Evaluating sources helps determine which sources you should use and which ones you should avoid. The better your information, the better your grade!

Level Double-A conformance,
            W3C WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

Why Evaluate? Tutorial

What are my professors talking about?

  • Peer-reviewed articles: Information that's been vetted by experts in the author's field, and declared to be legitimate research. (A.K.A. refereed articles)

  • Scholarly journals or periodicals: an academic publication with different articles and information about specific subjects, like the American Journal of Nursing or The Historical Journal. Some periodicals and scholarly journals are peer-reviewed, but not all!

  • Articles: Generally more detailed than an encyclopedia entry but not as lengthy as a book, articles feature published research and critical evaluation on a topic. They usually have an abstract (or summary of their contents) and a list of references in addition to the article itself. Peer-reviewed articles have passed a quality assessment based on the information in the article.

  • Databases: a "more accurate than Google" search engine that features journal articles, reviews, scholarly journals and periodicals, peer-reviewed articles, and other resources with an academic focus, like Academic Search Complete or JSTOR. You can also use them to find videos, animations, news articles, ebooks, and many more kinds of content.

  • Review articles: A summary of relevant information and current understanding on a topic; it is not the same as a peer-reviewed article!

Basic Evaluation Steps

When evaluating information, you're looking for accuracy, authority, biases, currency, intent, and relevancy. Ask yourself:

WHO created the information?

WHAT is the information about or trying to tell you?

WHERE is the information coming from?

WHEN was it published or last edited?

WHY was it written, and why would it be a good?

HOW accurate and relevant is it?

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