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University of Wyoming Libraries Research Launchpad

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Where Do I Start?: Evaluate

Evaluating Sources

You've found sources you want to use, great! Now what? Use this section as a guide to evaluate the sources you have found in order to determine if they are right for your project and whether or not you should trust the information.

What do you need?

First, go over what you need for your assignment or project.

  • Does your research need to be peer-reviewed, a process that checks the article for mistakes before publishing?
  • Does your project need a specific type of resource such as a book, article, map, or news article?
  • What restrictions or requirements have been mentioned in your assignment prompt?

Using Web Sources?

  • Can you tell when it was last updated?
  • Does the page list a publishing company or a copyright notice?
  • What quality are the images? Do they look plagiarised from somewhere else?
  • Does the website cite their sources so you can check the truth of their message?
  • Do the hyperlinks work?
  • Does the website include contact information for the author? Is their name on the website?

Asking the questions

The main consideration should always be the purpose of your project - how will you use the sources to get there? 

Other questions depend on your topic and the project requirements.

Currency

  • When was the source published?
  • Do you need the newest information?
  • How much has the discipline changed since it was published?

Relevance

  • What discipline is the source?
  • Is the source about your topic?
  • Who is the intended audience of the source?
  • How useful is the source?

Authority

  • Is there an author attached to the source?
  • Do you need the author to have certain qualifications? MD? PhD?
  • Is there an institution or university that is associated with the article?

Accuracy

  • Does the source document its sources?
  • Can you tell where they found their information?
  • Are there typos or misspelled names or words?
  • How confident are you in the accuracy of the statistics and data presented?

Purpose

  • What is the purpose of the source? Is it meant to entertain, inform, persuade, sell, or market an idea?
  • What tone does the source use? Is it objective or informative?
  • Is there an organization that is sponsoring the information?