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MUC 321 Spring 2018

Evaluating Sources

  • Author’s credentials
    • What is the author’s educational background?
    • What is the author’s institutional affiliation?
    • Has the author written other publications on the topic?
  • Publisher 
    • Is the source published by a well-known publishing house?
  • Currency 
    • When was the source written?  
    • How does that affect its value? (depends on the subject)
  • References
    • Did you see the source cited somewhere?
      • How often?
      •  Where it was cited can be informative
    • Did someone you know recommend the source?
      • Is that person an authority?
  • Suitability
    • For whom is the source written?
    • What is its “purpose”?
    • Does it delve deeply into the subject or skim the surface?
    • Is that appropriate for your project?
  • Accuracy
    • To the extent you can determine it, does the author support conclusions with accurate facts?
    •  Is the source of the facts cited?
    •  Are you able to verify them yourself?
  • Bias
    • Is the author advocating a particular point of view?
    •  Are the arguments rational or emotional in nature?
    •  Are they supported by facts?
  • Scholarly apparatus
    • Does the source include a bibliography? Footnotes? An index?
    •  This is not appropriate for all writing but it allows you to verify facts and follow an argument or line of reasoning from one source to another
  • Reviews
    • Read reviews of the source (if a book)
    •  For journal articles, you can look for letters or response articles in the same journal (or others)