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Evaluating Sources

This tutorial will help you evaluate and analyze sources critically in order to judge their appropriateness to your purpose.

What to look for: print

Book:

The publication date of a book will be found at the bottom of the title page or on the back of the title page.

Article:

This will usually be apparent from the volume, issue, and year of the journal in which it appears.

What about E-books and articles found in online library databases?

Typically, these are sources that are or were available in print and follow the same rules. When instructors forbid you to use web resources, they usually do not mean that you may not use resources in an online library database.

Currency: Is it up-to-date?

Check the date of publication, since the timeliness of research is crucial to certain fields, especially medicine and the natural sciences.

Timeliness may be less important to certain fields such as literature and philosophy.

What to look for: web

Where:

Dates may be found on the article itself (at the beginning or end) or the website may have a "last updated" or "date modified" date at the bottom.

What:

Are the links updated or are there broken links? If there are broken links, chances are that the webpage isn't updated frequently.