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Claremont Colleges Off-Campus Study

Library and research information for students participating in the CMC Washington Program, Silicon Valley, or Study Abroad.

Introduction

When writing a paper, it is necessary to evaluate every source (book, article, website, etc...) to ensure it is reliableauthoritative, and the best evidence for the point you are trying to make. These are some of the questions you can ask yourself about each source to see if it is indeed authoritative and citable.

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/)