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PZ IIS 067 Theory and Practice of Resistance to Monoculture: Evaluating Information

Is There Such a Thing as a "Good" Source?

For every assignment, and every research question, there is a different set of parameters for determing if information and sources are appropriate and useful.

Consider this statement: There is no such thing as an objectively good or bad source. There are only sources that are good or bad for YOUR research.

There are many different criteria that you need to consider in evaluating if information should be included in your research, or not. You can find a few guiding questions below.

Still not sure if your source is appropriate for your assignment? Now's a great time to contact your professor, or your course librarian (Dani).

Sources: A Continuum


Where on the continuum would the sources you found lie for this specific paper?

Google Scholar

Guiding Questions for Evaluating Sources

First point: How do you intend to use this source?

  • Do you plan to cite this source as reputable information?
  • Do you plan to critique this source as unreliable and/or as an opinion piece?

Your use will determine what answers you hope to get from the following questions.

Who is the author?

  • What are the author's credentials, educational background, area of expertise, etc.?
  • Have other scholars cited this author's work?

Why was the source written?

  • Is the information in it fact, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Does the author want people who read it to take some action? To join a cause or adopt a belief? For instance, are you being persuaded to buy something or to vote for something?
  • What kind of claims are being made in the source? Do they seem reasonable? Do they seem in line with other sources?
  • Is the author's point of view objective and impartial?

How was it written?

  • Does the author tell how facts were gathered? What type of sources were used?
  • Is there any documentation offered, for instance, do you find a bibliography or other "credits"?

Why was it posted or published?

  • Who is hosting this website or publishing this book or journal?
  • What do you know about the company or group? Do they have a specific agenda?