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HU 3900: Inquiry Seminar - History of Popular Science

Evaluating Information

When you find a new source of information (such as an online article, a news story, a scholarly journal article, or a book), ask yourself the following questions about the source: 

Who?

Who is the author, editor, or creator? What are the author's qualifications? Who is the publisher?

What?

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?

When?

When was this source published? Is the publication date appropriate for your research?

Where?

Where did you find the source? An academic journal? A library database? A website?

Why?

What was the goal of the author or publisher? Is there bias?

How?

How did the author gather data and information? Did the author include citations? Did the author derive reasonable conclusions from the research?

The answers to these questions will help you to answer the big picture questions about the source:

  • Credibility: Is the source reliable?  
  • Relevance: Does the source suit your research needs? 

Evaluating Sources Activity

Take a look at the following sources, and consider the following:

  • Who is the author? What are the author's qualifications? 
  • Where was the source published? Who is the publisher?
  • Would you use this source in your research? How would you use it? For example:
    • Would you use this source for background information?
      • Would you use this source to find other sources for your research?
      • Would you cite this source in your paper?