In conducting your own research, you must wisely evaluate the articles, books, journals, and websites you use. Use the criteria below to assess possible sources.
Be aware of the authority with which the author speaks. If the author is one in your own field of study, is he/she a well-known and well-regarded name you recognize? If the author is unknown to you, consider the following questions when evaluating a source’s credibility:
If none of the above information is present, search for the author’s e-mail address to request further information on his/her work and professional background.
A scholarly article is published in a journal with an academic affiliation. This generally means that the author's article has undergone a peer review process in order to verify that it meets the publisher’s standards. Thus, an article appearing in a scholarly publication may be trusted. For books, also make note of the publisher. Does it come from an academic press?
For documents found on the web this question becomes more difficult as there is no publisher in the traditional sense. Ask the following questions to assess websites:
The author of a work needs to be aware of related research in that subject area. The following criteria serve as a rubric for evaluating the literature knowledge of a source:
Currency refers to the timeliness of information. In printed documents, the date of publication is the first indicator of currency; for reliable, web-only publications, you should still be able to determine its publication or last updated data. Apply the following criteria to ascertain currency:
Since anyone can, and probably will, put anything on the Internet, it is necessary first to evaluate the material before using it for academic purposes.
Authors are scholars and experts in the field. Authors are always named, and their institutional affiliation is given.
|Authors are staff writers or journalists.|
Publishers may be university presses or professional associations. Articles may be edited through the peer-review process by scholars in the same field of study.
|Publishers are corporations, working for profit.|
Articles are longer with a focus on research projects, methodology and theory. Language is more formal, technical, using discipline specific terminology.
Articles may be shorter with a general focus on the topic and written for news or entertainment value.
Sources are cited and a bibliography or footnotes provided to document the research.
|Sources are not usually cited.|
Article may include these sections: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, and a bibliography.
|Specific format is not followed.|
Audience consists of academics, scholars, researchers, and professionals.
|Audience is the general public.|