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Research Basics

This guide contains tips and tricks for general research success!

Source Evaluation

Evaluating sources is all about thinking critically not just about the credibility or trustworthiness of the source, but also considering its usefulness to your research need.

Consider this statement: There is no such thing as a good source or bad source. There are only sources that are good or bad for your research.

 

Use the 5W questions below to help you learn more about a source and decide whether/ how to use it in your research.

The very first question: How do you plan to use this source?

  • Do you plan to cite this source as reputable information?
  • Do you plan to critique this source as an example of bias about your topic?
  • Your use will determine what answers you hope to get from the following questions.

Who is the author of the source?

  • What are the author’s credentials, educational background, area of expertise, etc.?
  • Have other scholars cited this work?

What type of source is it? (Primary, secondary, journal article, website, etc.)

Where did you find this article?

  • Database, library catalog, open web?
  • Who is publishing/hosting the article?

Also, Where did the funding come from for this article to be written?

When was the source published?

  • Is the source too old or too new for your purposes?

Why was the source written?

  • Is the information in it fact, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Is the author's point of view objective and impartial? Can you detect a bias?
     

Pull it all together: Using your answers to the above questions, do you still plan to use this source?

Source: Kirsten Hansen, "Do you trust this source?" Project CORA lesson plan.

Evaluation Frameworks

Fake News

Check out our comprehensive guide on how to evaluate news sources and detect "fake news."

Fake News Research Guide