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Home: Evaluating Your Sources

Video: Evaluating Sources

Evaluation Criteria

To evaluate your sources, you must determine its credibility.

Ask yourself "Is this C.R.A.P.?"

Currency

  • How current is the information?
  • Is the age of the publication likely to impact the conclusions drawn by the author?

Reliability/Relevancy  

  • Does this work provide you with high quality information?
  • Does this work show signs of bias?
  • Is your topic treated as the main subject, or is it peripheral?
  • Does the information support or disprove your thesis?
  • Is the resource useful to your research need?  

Authority

  • Who is the author of the work, and what are his/her credentials?
  • Who published the work – a scholarly press, commercial publisher, or is it self-published?
  • If it is an online resource, can you determine who the author is?  

Purpose 

  • What is the purpose of the resource?
  • Is the purpose clearly outlined in an introduction or foreword?
  • Is the work’s audience an expert in the field or a lay person?

Evaluating Articles

  • Author: Can you determine the author’s affiliation or credentials? Is the author from a university or research organization?
  • Publication date: When was this published?  Is currency important for your topic?
  • Length: How long is the article?  2-3 pages does not provide in-depth coverage and is not likely to be a peer-reviewed, research article.
  • Abstract: Is there an abstract?  Reading an abstract takes much less time than skimming the whole article – use it to help decide if this article will be useful!
  • Peer-review: Is the article from a peer-reviewed (sometimes called “refereed”) journal?

Evaluating Websites

Most Web content is posted without any form of review for accuracy or reliability, so it is up to you to make sure that the online information you find is credible and relevant for your research need. Use the C.R.A.P. criteria as your guideline, and evaluate the following Web sites with critical eyes.

http://www.vegsource.com/harris/index.htm

http://www.beefnutrition.org/

https://www.chevron.com/corporate-responsibility/climate-change

http://42explore.com/globewrm.htm

http://martinlutherking.org/

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Examples used courtesy of Gettysburg College "How to Evaluate Resources"; modified by SJC Librarian, July 14, 2015  

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Subjective vs Objective

  • Objective information reviews many points of view. It is intended to be unbiased. News reporters are supposed to be objective and report the facts of an event. Encyclopedias and other reference materials provide objective information.

    Example: "99% of U.S households have at least one TV set."

  • Subjective information is one person's opinion. In a newspaper, the editorial section is the place for subjectivity. It can be based on fact, but it is one person's interpretation of that fact. In this way, subjective information is also analytical.

             Example: "It is clear that even though many people are poor, television is more important than anything else."

Contents: courtesy of Information Literacy ODU