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How to evaluate research materials and resources

Why evaluate? General criteria

Research requires critical thinking to determine if the sources that you found for your assignments are credible and meet academic research standards.

Credible sources are reliable, trustworthy sources of information. Use your own judgment to question the reliability of the source and evaluate its quality and relevance to your research. Here are some questions to bear in mind when trying to determine the reliability of a source:

Who is the author of the source?

  • What is the author’s expertise?
  • What is the author’s motivation?

Is this information reliable?

  • What degree of currency is needed? When was it published?
  • What was the editorial process? Was the source vetted by peers?

Is this information relevant to your topic?

  • How relevant is this information to your specific need?
  • What perspectives are given? Should you consider other perspectives?

Learn to apply these types of questions to all sources that you use, including books, articles, websites, news, and media materials. Always examine critically all sources that you use. For detailed guidelines on evaluating each type of source, consider the criteria by format for books, articles, websites and media.

If you have any questions, please use the Ask a Librarian service.

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