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Question 5: Evaluate your sources

Use the article you found in Question 4 and evaluate it based on the criteria listed below to determine if you would use that article for your research paper.

 

1. Currency:

How timely is your article?

 

Think about: When was the information published or posted? Has the information been revised or updated? Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?

2. Authority:

What is the source of the information?

 

Think about:Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor? Are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations given? What are the author’s qualifications to write on the topic? Is there contact information?

3. Accuracy:

How reliable or truthful is the content?

 

Think about: Where does the information come from? Is the information supported by evidence? Has the information been reviewed? Can you verify any of the information in another source? Is there a bibliography?

4. Purpose:

Why does the information exist?

 

Think about: What is the purpose of this information? (To inform or persuade?) Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear? Is the information fact or interpretation of facts? Opinion? Propaganda? Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

5. Relevance:

How well does the information fit your needs?

 

Think about: Does the information closely relate to your topic or answer a question you have? Who is the intended audience? (Experts? General public?) Is the information at an appropriate level? (Not too narrow, not too general?) What will this source add to your research project?

6. Scholarly:

Is this article scholarly or not? 

 

Think about: What is the source of publication?  Is the author affiliated with a university or research institute?  Does the article report original research? Is it peer-reviewed?

Write 1-2 sentences explaining how the criteria helped you determine the appropriateness of your article. Be sure to discuss at least 3 of the listed criteria in your answer.

Pro Tips & Common Mistakes

  • How current your article needs to be depends on your topic!  If it's something in the fields of science, health, or business, for example, it needs to be recent.  If it's about literature, history, or philosophy, for example, an older article might be just as useful.
  • Not all articles from scholarly journals are scholarly!  You might also find editorials or book reviews in scholarly journals.
  • The audience for an article refers to the people reading the article, not the population being investigated in the article.