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English 101 - Proposal Research Paper: Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Information

Evaluating the authority, usefulness and reliability of the information you find is an important step in the process of academic research. The questions you should be asking yourself about a source are similar whether you are using books, articles, multimedia content, or websites. Check out the resources on this page to be sure you select credible, quality sources for your research assignments.

Evaluating Sources: General Guidelines - Purdue University (OWL)

Watch this short video on Evaluating Sources (4 min.) from MSJC's Online Library Orientation

Evaluating Websites

 

The web is a great information resource. There is so much information out there you can usually find some information on your topic. However, because anyone can put anything on the web you need to be very careful when using the web as a research source.

You can use the following checklist to help you to determine the reliability of the information you find on a website.

checkACCURACY

  • Is the information reliable and correct?
  • Is there an editor who verifies the information?

AUTHORITY

  • Is there an author? What are his or her qualifications?
  • What is the sponsoring organization? Is it reputable?

Hint: Look for links providing information about the author and his or her e-mail address. Check for "about us," "philosophy," etc. for information about the organization.

checkOBJECTIVITY

  • Does the website show a bias?
  • Is there advertising on the page? 
  • What is the purpose of the site? To sell, to inform, to persuade?

CURRENCY

  • Does the site include the dates it was created and updated?
  • How current are the links? Have any expired or moved?

Consider if currency is especially important for your research topic.

checkCOVERAGE

  • How does the site compare with other sites on this topic?
  • Is material covered in depth rather than superficially?

Evaluating Sources - The CRAAP Test

CRAAP Test infographic