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Evaluating Information: Home

This guide will give you insights into evaluating books, articles and websites for inclusion in your research.

In This Guide

How can you tell if you've found high-quality, accurate books, articles and web sites to use in your research?  Use this guide to evaluate everything from scholarly articles to websites.   

covers of materials science journals from Wiley Publishing

 

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Image Credit: Materials-Science-Journals by The Wiley Asia Blog. Used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

How to Evaluate Sources

What kind of information do you need?  If you are writing for a class assignment, you may be required to use peer-reviewed ("refereed") or scholarly sources.  In any case, you should always look for sources that are authoritative.

Scholarly Checklist--Look for:

  • Authors listed, with credentials
  • Bibliography, references, or works cited and data (statistics, figures) to support conclusions
  • Reviewed by peers or experts in the subject
  • Published by a reputable publisher
  • Purpose is to impart knowledge, not to sell, persuade, entertain

 

Authoritative--A source can have authority even if it isn't scholarly.

  • Author and/or publisher is an expert on the subject
  • Author's affiliations and contact information are available
  • Publisher or sponsoring organization is reputable (e.g., for websites, look for the domain; .gov or .edu sites are more likely to contain unbiased information)
  • Cites scholarly or high-quality sources in references list/bibliography

 

Other Criteria-- these are not definitive, but worthy of consideration:

  • Do you see errors in spelling, grammar, data?
  • Is the publication in turn cited by other credible works published later?
  • How current is the information (no date? be suspicious)?

 

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Evaluating Sources for Credibility