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Research Guides

SCR WR 50 - Too Much Information - Elam - Fall 2017

POM ID 1 - Statistics in the Real World - Hardin - Fall 2018

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

For every assignment, and every research question, there is a different set of parameters for determining 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 (Allegra).

Sources: A Continuum


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

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?

Entering the Schoilarly Conversation

This exercise is designed to help students "Enter the Scholarly Conversation"

Scholarly Inquiry

Break into 5 groups.of 3 to 4 students each.

You may do one or both of the suggested activities: (10 minutes)

1. Look at a Wikipedia entry’s history page to see what kinds of disagreements or changes have happened over time,  Later you can use those findings to develop keywords that can be used in a search in an academic database.


Search Wikipedia for Facebook - look at the history and see how many changes are made to the article all the time. How does this affect how you might use or refer to this entry?

Look at the citations for Facebook in the WIkipedia entry.

How many are there?

What do the authors cite in the entries?

Are there any scholarly sources?

What does that tell you about this entry?

2. Look up an article on your topic in Google Scholar. Use Google Scholar’s “cited by” feature to look at an article by another author who has cited this article. Keep track of important theorists, works, or terms. Use these additional concepts to expand your searching for information on your topic.


Look up Facebook and "social networking" in Google Scholar.

Choose the article "Being Immersed in Social Networking Environment:Facebook Groups, Uses and Gratifications,and Social Outcomes"

Examine the citing authors and some of the titles ofr articles citing this study.

What are the topics?

Why do you think the author might have cited this title?

What does this conversation mean to the scholarship on this topic?


Select a spokesperson to report out your findings. (20 minutes)