These steps are designed to help you determine if a source (journal article, book, website, etc.) is appropriate for use in your research paper.
First off: 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 an example of bias about your topic?
- Etc. 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?
- Did your professor or another expert recommend 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? For instance, are you being persuaded to buy something or to vote for something?
- Is the author's point of view objective and impartial? Can you detect a bias?
How was it written?
- Does the author tell how facts were gathered? Were they gathered from unbiased sources?
- 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 bias?