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MTE580 - Materials Science & Engineering Seminar - Zhong: Evaluating Sources

Evaluation is a Process

The Important Questions of Evaluation:

The 5 Ws (and one H) The Surface-Level Questions The Deeper Questions



Who is the author, editor, or creator?

Is the author qualified to write about this topic? 

Who is the publisher?

What makes them qualified?

First-hand experience?

An advanced degree?



What type of document is it?

For example, is it a newspaper article? A blog? A government website? A scholarly article? A book?  

What is it about?

There is no 'bad' type of document, but some have gone through a more rigorous review process than others.



When was this source published?

Is the publication date appropriate for your research? 

The 'up-to-date'-ness of a source matters more for some research questions than others. 



Where did you find the source? In a peer-reviewed journal? In a library database? On a website?

For websites, what is the URL ending? For example, .com? .gov? .org? .edu? 

Be strategic about where you look for information. Which search tool, database, or website is most likely to have the kind of information you need. 



What was the goal of the author or publisher?

Is there bias? 

Bias does not necessarily negate credibility. We all have biases. The question then becomes: are those biases disclosed? Do they impact the quality of the information?



How did the author(s) gather data and information?

Did they include citations?

Did they derive reasonable conclusions from the research?

Did the author(s) only cite themselves/their associates? How well did they explain their process? Was their work reviewed by anyone else?

Evaluating Sources

This 3 minute video was created by the Librarians at North Carolina State University.

This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license.

Source Evaluation Guidelines