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Women & The Law: Evaluating Sources

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?)

 

Some places to look to determine CASA criteria

Resource Type

Currency

Authority

Scope

Accuracy

Books

·   publication date

·   references and/or bibliography

·   author’s bio

·   publisher info

·   table of contents

·   title page

·   index(es)

·   preface

·   references and/or bibliography

Web Pages

·   last updated note

·   root page

·   author’s bio

·   menus

·   root page

·   site map

·   introduction

·   introduction

·   references and/or bibliography

Newspaper/Magazine Articles

·   publication date

·   web search on author and/or publisher

·   bold-faced, colored, or underlined text

·   highlighted quotations

·   photo captions

·   assertions are backed up with evidence

Blogs

·   recently updated posts

·   author’s bio or editorial board info

·   web search on author

·   blog affiliations

·   amount of ads

·   about page

·   scan previous posts

·   assertions are backed up with evidence

Databases (e.g., Academic Search Premier, JSTOR)

·   about/scope information

·   vendor/source

·   list of publications or sources included in the database

·   help section

 

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/)