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Research Guides

PIT FYS - Drug Development - Prof. Wenzel - FA 2017

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? Reach out to your professor or your course librarian. 

Guiding Questions for Evaluating Sources

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?

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? 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?

Scholarly vs. Popular Articles

Scholarly and Popular Articles


Scholarly Article


Popular Article


research article


general interest article


written for a specialized audience


written for a general audience


author is an expert, such as a professor


author is a journalist


peer reviewed (usually)


not peer reviewed


includes bibliography


no bibliography


Articles published in:


    Personality and Social  

   Psychology Review


       Film Quarterly


Modern Language Quarterly


Articles published in:




Rolling Stone