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ISE1801 - Composition for Non-Native Speakers - El Hamzaoui: Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources for Credibility

Here is a short video from the N.C. State librarians:

Primary & Secondary Sources

Reading A Scholarly Journal Article

Anatomy of a Scholarly Journal Article

Check the Anatomy of a Scholarly Article to find out what a scholarly article generally looks like.  Please note that this is only one example of the format of a scholarly article. Scholarly articles can also contain headings such as methodology, discussion of results etc.

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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?

Source Evaluation Guidelines