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ETHN-367 Dr. Diaz

Criteria

Evaluating Sources: A Quick Guide

AUTHORITY

  • Who wrote it? Where is the information coming from?

  • Is the author(s) an expert on the topic? Why or why not?

  • Did the material undergo the “peer review” process before being published/presented? (Or is the material published in a popular source (such as a magazine) or self-published?)

ACCURACY

  • Does the content fit in with what you already know about the topic? Or is it wildly different?

  • Are statistics or other hard data included?

  • Are references to other sources included? Do those sources look to be reputable?

BIAS

  • Is the author(s) trustworthy?

  • Does s/he have an agenda? What might it be? (political, religious, etc.)

  • Does the author use inflammatory language designed to provoke fear or a strong emotional reaction?

  • Is the author a member of a special-interest group? Is his or her work sponsored by a particular organization? Does s/he receive financial compensation for this work?

  • Does s/he acknowledge and discuss other viewpoints? Does s/he adequately refute counter-arguments with evidence?

  • Are photographs or other images included? If so, what kind of message do they send? (Consider camera angle, symbolism, lighting, presentation of subject, etc.)

CURRENCY

  • When was the material created?

  • Is it timely or outdated?

  • How does it reflect the time period during which it was created? (What was going on in the society that may have prompted its creation?)

DOMAIN

  • If the material came from the Internet, what can the URL tell you about its content? (.gov, .edu, .com, .org, .net, etc.)

  • If the material includes a video, was it published/produced by a film company? Was it edited? Or simply uploaded to Youtube or another video-sharing website?

READABILITY

  • Do you understand what the source is arguing, or is it filled with jargon / technical language that you aren't familiar with?
     

RELEVANCE

  • Does the source truly address what you are researching, or it is only peripherally related?

  • Can you incorporate the source into your writing in a meaningful way?