The Ellen Clarke Bertrand Library

ENGR100: Introduction to Engineering: Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating and Narrowing Sources

Evaluating sources allows you to select and vet relevant information that will inform your research, provide evidence for your arguments, and enter you into the scholarly conversation about your topic.  Evaluating sources can happen in phases: when you first find a source (quick evaluation), and when you review your collected sources as you narrow down to which ones you will use.

QUICK EVALUATION (mental checklist)
Tip - write down the bold words below on a post-it to keep while you look for sources.

Purpose and audience: Why was this source created?  Who is the intended audience?
Objectivity: Does the source contain fact, opinion, propaganda, or bias?
Accuracy and reliability: Is the information well researched? Is it scholarly or popular? 
Authority: Who are the author and publisher? 
Currency: When was the source published?

Purpose and intended audience:

  • -Why was this source created?  
  • -What is the author’s intent for the source (inform, persuade, other)? 
  • -Who is the intended audience (scholars/experts, general population, other)?

Objectivity or bias

  • -Does the source contain fact, opinion, propaganda, or bias?
  • -Is the information presented in the source objective (unbiased) or subjective (biased)?
  • -Does the information have a political, religious, economic, or social agenda?
  • -This may require finding more information on the author, publisher, and funding sources.

Authority and credibility: Credibility Video

  • -Who is the author?
  • -What are the qualifications of the author? 
  • -How was the source published?
  • -Who is the publisher? Is the publisher creditable?

Accuracy and reliability

  • -Is the information in the source well researched?  
  • -Did the author cite their sources of information?  
  • -Who and what did they cite?

Currency and timeliness

  • -When was the information created and/or published? 
  • -Is current information required for your topic?

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