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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.

Why evaluate?

Critical thinking and evaluation are important because they focus on public evidence and challenge blind authority and individual bias.

Critical evaluation means careful and exact thinking. It means looking for public forms of evidence rather than simply accepting what we are told or our own biased intuitions.

Don't just gulp it down!

Mindlessly taking in information is like gulping down food. Take a minute to check it out. It takes just a moment to evaluate sources and, after a while, you get accustomed to identifying and even reliably trusting certain sources. It's all part of critical thinking and a lot like being a discriminating consumer!

Student Learning Outcome (SLO)

Welcome to the Evaluating Sources Tutorial. After completing this tutorial a student will be able to:

  • Judge the appropriateness of various types of sources by evaluating their currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose.

Evaluation Criteria

First things first: Find out what types of sources your instructor will allow you to use for the assignment. Some will only allow references from scholarly journals and books.

On second thought: If you are permitted to use web resources and newspaper and magazine articles in your papers and projects, you will want to evaluate the information to make sure that it is an authoritative and credible source (unless you are illustrating a point about them-- for example, showing depictions of women in the 1920s from a magazine).

Some things to consider in evaluating all types of sources*:

Currency: Is the information current and up-to-date?

Relevance: Does the information have anything to do with your topic?

Authority: Is it authoritative?

Accuracy: Is reliable and true?

Purpose: Why does the information exist?

Check the acronym.  Did your website pass the CRAAP Test?!

*Criteria adapted from the CRAAP Test, Meriam Library, California State University, Chico


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