4. Evaluating Sources

Evaluating sources of information to make sure they are credible helps you ensure that you have a solid foundation for the ideas you are putting forth in your researched writing.

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4.1  Deciding whether a source is credible

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Deciding whether a source is credible

Deciding whether a source is credible

Asking basic informational questions will help you decide whether a source is credible enough to use in your research.

Example

Evaluate the usefulness of a source: checking the author, date, and publication information

Three aspects of a source provide much of the information you need in order to evaluate the usefulness of a source.

4.2  Recognizing bias

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Recognizing bias

Recognizing bias

A writer’s intent and language can clue you into a source’s bias, or slant, on the information.

Example

Read for opinion and bias in sources

The writer’s purpose for writing and the language used to achieve that purpose affect whether an opinionated source is too biased to use.

4.3  Evaluating print sources

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Evaluating print sources

Evaluating print sources

The author, publisher, and publication date all have a role in evaluating sources such as books and articles you access in print.

Example

Consult Wikipedia, encyclopedias, and other reference works when appropriate

Knowing how and when to use Wikipedia and encyclopedias in your research process is crucial in preparing a bibliography that demonstrates your specialized knowledge.

4.4  Evaluating web sources

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Evaluating web sources

Evaluating web sources

Slowing down to check for not-so-minor details is a key aspect of evaluating sources you find online.

Example

Evaluate Web sources carefully

From the way you access online sources to the kinds of information they provide, web pages can be authoritative sources or mere quackery.

4.5  Recognizing scholarly articles in print and online

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Recognizing scholarly articles in print and online

Recognizing scholarly articles in print and online

You can use the features of a scholarly article as a check to be sure you are citing the most respected sources available.

Example

Distinguish between sources: popular magazines versus scholarly journals

Distinguishing popular magazines from scholarly journals will allow you to make well-reasoned decisions about which sources make most sense in your research situation.

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