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Step 6. Evaluate Your Sources

After finding books and articles, you'll need to assess potential sources to ensure they are credible and useful.  Consider the following questions:

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 Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?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?

Scholarly or Not?

Journal of Sport History                          

Journal of Sport History vs. Sports Illustrated

Which one is scholarly? See our Scholarly Sources Guide!