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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

  • Does the author include a References, Bibliography, or Works Cited page?

  • Does the author include footnotes or parenthetical citations?

  • Are these references able to be found by readers and verified?

  • Does the information agree with at least 2 other verifiable sources?

  • Is the information complete or are there obvious gaps?

  • Accuracy

    Check to see if the author supports knowledge claims with the proper forms of public evidence, both empirical and logical, and if the author cites other research that is relevant to his or her claims.

    These are perhaps the most important characteristics in determining the reliability of a source.

    What to look for: web

  • In general, the same things you look for in print will apply to the web.

  • Often, in lieu of a "references" section, an article on the web will cite a study or report within the text.

  • In some cases, you may need to find the original report to compare it with the article you found.

  • Again, you may want to find that facts reported agree with other sources.