EVALUATING
SOURCES

The following slides present questions to consider when evaluating a source.

Please, read along as the slides change!
IT IS
RELEVANT
?

What is your purpose in reviewing the source? Does the source relate to your purpose? What does it add to your work? To find out if a source is relevant, you do not need to read it in its entirety. You can read its title, abstract (if it has one), and introductory sections.

WHAT ARE THE AUTHOR'S
CREDENTIALS
?

Is the author an expert on this subject? Does the author have a degree related to the subject? Has the author written other works on the subject? Is the author's expertise reflected by the source? What are the author's institutional affiliations? If the author's credentials are not provided in the source, you might do a search to find out more about them.

WHO IS THE
PUBLISHER
?

If the source is a book, what company published it? Is it a renowned company? If an article, what kind of periodical did it appear in? Books published by university presses and articles in scholarly journals are reviewed by experts on the subject before they are published. However, books and articles addressed to a general audience do not undergo rigorous review and fact-checking.

IF A WEBSITE, WHO IS THE
SPONSOR
?

Is the site maintained by an organization, an interest group, a government agency, or an individual? Look for clues in the URL: --.edu is used mostly by colleges and universities, --.gov by government agencies, -- .org by nonprofit organizations, -- .mil by the military, -- .com by commercial organizations. What is the site's purpose: to argue a position? To present information even-handedly? To sell something?

WHAT IS THE
LEVEL OF DICTION
?

Can you understand the text? Texts written for a general audience might be easier to understand but authoritative enough for academic work. Scholarly texts will be more authoritative but may be hard to comprehend.

HOW
CURRENT
IS IT?

Check to see when books and articles were published and when websites were last updated. If a site does not provide the date when it was last updated, see if links to other sites work. If not, the site is probably too dated to be used. A recent publication or update does not necessarily mean the source is better. Some topics require current information whereas others call for older sources.

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