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Types of Sources and Tips for Evaluating

Last Updated: Mar 23, 2018 03:17PM CDT
Quick links: Types of Sources and Differences | Tips for Evaluating Sources and Interpreting Information | Scholarly & Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Differences between Scholarly Journals, Professional Periodicals, and Popular Magazines

Tips for Evaluating Sources and Interpreting Information

When evaluating a source, consider its:

Authority: the credibility of the source

  • Who is the author?  What are his/her credentials and affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • What type and quality of sources does the author use?  Does she/he cite these sources?

Suitability: the appropriateness of the source for the research project

  • Is this a primary or secondary source?
  • Does the source fit the needs of the research project?
  • What is the source’s purpose?
  • Is this a unique source, or similar to sources of the same nature or purpose?
  • What is the value of the information presented in this source as compared to that of other sources?
  • Is the content in this source focused on a specific aspect of the topic, or is it more of an overview of the topic?

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the source published?
  • Is the information (including data) in the source current?
  • Does the time-frame of the information within the source fit the needs of the research project?

Accuracy: the correctness of the content

  • Are the sources that are referenced completely and correctly cited?
  • Is it clear who has responsibility for the accuracy of the information in the source?
  • Has the source been peer-reviewed?

Objectivity: the bias of the author

  • Who is the intended audience of the source?
  • Are the ideas and arguments in the source valid, supported by evidence, and well-researched?
  • Does the information in the source include generalizations that aren’t supported by evidence?
  • What is the tone of the source?  What is the author’s purpose?

Scholarly & Primary vs. Secondary Sources
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