There are different types of sources that may potentially be used for your research paper. They can vary in scope between popular and scholarly materials, as well as the format of the material (book, journal article, newspaper, website, etc.).
You cannot just assume a source will be useful or reliable based on face value alone. It is important to know both why you should evaluate your sources, as well as how to evaluate them. The resources listed on this page are a few great starting points to understanding more about your sources and why you can't just settle on anything you find with a Google search!
Evaluating your sources is an important part of the research process. The quality of the assignment you complete will depend largely on the quality of the information you use, so you will want to make sure you are using high quality sources.
Different types of information are communicated through different means, so determining your information need, as well as considering the best types of sources to locate that information, is key to finding a robust pool of potential sources.
The CRAAP Test (see table below) features five criteria to use when evaluating sources. This is only one useful resource; other resources on evaluating information can be found at the links to the right.
When was the source published (or last updated)?
Is there more recent information available that you should be considering?
How important is timeliness for your topic?
Does the source answer your research question?
Does it add something new to your knowledge of the topic?
Who wrote the source?
What are the author's credentials? Do they have expertise in this field?
Who published or posted this source?
How true and reliable is the content? Can you verify the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
For scholarly works, are there in-text citations and a bibliography?
What is the purpose of this source? Does it inform, persuade, advertise, mislead, etc.?
Is it objective or is there a clear bias present?
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