Evaluating Sources

These questions were adapted from:

Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum by Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. Pages 71-74. Copyright 1997 by Laurence Behrens and Leonard J.Rosen. Used by permission of Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers, Inc. 

The Little, Brown Guide to Writing Research Papers, 3rd edition, by Michael Meyer. Pages 55-59. Copyright 1994 by Michael Meyer. Used by permission of Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers, Inc. 

When you evaluate a source for possible inclusion in a research paper, ask yourself the following questions: 

Is the information accurate?

Has the author given sources for his/her information?

Is the article a scholarly or popular treatment?

What do you know about the author? Is he or she an authority on the topic addressed in the book?

Has the author interpreted information fairly? Is the basis for the interpretation clearly stated?

Has the author defined terms clearly?

Has the author argued logically, or has he or she used ad hominem arguments, faulty cause and effect, either/or reasoning or faulty generalizations?

Has the author made conclusions that go beyond the scope of his or her study?

What are the author's assumptions about his or her audience or subject? Are they clearly stated or implicit?

What is the nature of the source? What is the political or critical stance of the journal or book your source comes from?

Is the source current?

What do reviews have to say about the source?

Is the author's research design valid? What type of controls has he or she used? Has he or she taken account of uncontrolled variables?

Is the article relevant to your topic?

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