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ENGL110 class page

Evaluating Sources

When you're evaluating information you find through an online search or through library resources, these questions can help you decide how relevant, credible, and useful a source will be for your project. 

Who was involved in creating the source? 

  • What gives the author(s) authority to produce information on the topic? What limitations do they have? Consider their credentials and experience.
  • What group, institution, or publication is responsible for producing this source? Do an online search to find out more about this entity.
  • How does the source acknowledge or cite the ideas of others? Whose perspectives are represented, and whose may be left out? 

Who is the intended audience? 

  • Consider the visual design of the source as well as the type of language it uses. Who do you think is the intended audience? What does this mean for how you plan to use the source?

When and how was the source created? 

  • Can you identify the vetting process, such as peer-review or approval by an editor, that the source went through before publication? 
  • When was the source published or last updated? What does this mean for your topic?

Evaluating Sources Tutorial

This 20-minute tutorial will help you practice strategies for evaluating scholarly and popular sources. 

Types of Sources

When evaluating sources, it is helpful to determine whether they are intended for a scholarly or general/popular audience. Information you find in both types of sources might be useful for your research project. These guidelines can help you identify sources.

  Popular Sources Scholarly Sources
Purpose Report on current events or entertain Discuss results of research in detail
Author Journalists or professional writers Professors or scholars
Audience General public Researchers in specific academic fields
Language Accessible to a general audience Specialized to an academic area
Sources Cited May quote experts or interviewees; may include in-text links to sources Always include an extensive list of cited sources in a bibliography or footnotes