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Science, Technology, and Society (STS)

Use this guide to find information about science, technology, and society and conducting research at the Claremont Colleges Library. Credit: This guide is a mashup of Cynthia Cohen's course guide, Eli Gandour-Rood's (University of Puget Sound) STS guide,

Intro

When writing your papers, it is necessary to evaluate every source (book, article, website, etc...) to ensure it is reliable and authoritative. These are some of the questions you can ask yourself about each source to see if it is indeed authoritative and citable.

Guiding Questions

Consider these questions to determine whether a source is appropriate to use in your assignment:

  • What type of source is it? (primary, secondary, journal article, website, book, etc.)
  • When was the source published? Is the source too old or too new for your purposes?
  • Who is the author of the source? What are the author’s credentials?
  • Is the scope (time period, population studied, location) of the source appropriate to your topic and assignment?
  • How are you planning on incorporating the source into your argument? For example, are you planning on critiquing the source or using it to support an idea?

Evaluating Sources - CASA Approach

Currency

  • Copyright date/last update date
  • Up-to-date terminology and facts

Note:  The currency standard will differ depending on the discipline.

Authority

  • Qualifications or credentials of the author, editor, contributors
  • Is the material primary or secondary?
  • Publisher’s quality/purpose? (Do they publish reputable material?) 
  • Are submissions peer reviewed?

Scope

  • What kind of information is the source intended to convey?
  • What topics are covered? For what period of time?
  • How detailed is the source? 
  • How complete is it?  Are there any noticeable omissions? 

Accuracy

  • What is the source’s purpose? (What is the author trying to accomplish through the work?)
  • Does the content seem credible? (well-written, well organized, logically presented)
  • To what extent does the argument rely on evidence and to what extent does it rely on opinion?
  • Is the evidence verifiable? (sources clearly attributed or original research methodology explained)
  • Is the information presented in an objective manner? (All sides of an issue presented; no logical fallacies)
  • Is the source internally consistent? 
  • How does source fit in with other sources in the field? (Does it reference other reputable/authoritative sources? Does it build upon the contributions of others/current knowledge? Is it compatible with known information or explain why it is not compatible?)

General assessment strategies:

Print Resources

Web Pages

Databases

Scan table of contents

Scan menus

Review help section

Scan title page

Scan root page

Read about/scope information

Scan index(es)

Scan site map

Review the list of publications/sources included

Read preface

Read introduction

Determine the vendor/source

Scan references/bibliography

Scan references/bibliography

 

Read author’s bio

Read author’s bio

 


Developed by Sara Lowe and Karen Wallace; informed by Libraries Linking Idaho course on evaluating reference sources (http://www.lili.org/forlibs/ce/able/course10/)