Evaluating Internet Sources Basic Criteria for Evaluating Sources Peer-Reviewed Journals Research: Evaluating Sources Research: Locating Sources Ethical Issues What is a scholarly source? The Changing Nature of Information Research: Using Databases Research: Techniques and Tools Research : What is it? The Changing Nature of Information


Evaluating Sources

When in doubt, doubt!

As a researcher you carefully thought about and selected your topic, chose the best databases, defined your search terms and search strategies, and located the materials in your citation lists. Now, you need to evaluate their worth.

Quantity: The first question you should ask is if you have a sufficient number of sources. Your professor may require a certain number of types of resources, but apart from that stipulation you need to make sure that you have sources covering all aspects of your topic and presenting all points of view. You should collect at least twice as many sources as your professor requires. This surplus gives you the luxury of discarding sources that don't quite meet the standards of your research assignment. Research is not done when you begin your paper. Plan on locating more sources as you find gaps in your project.

Quality: After you are sure you have enough sources that cover all aspects of your topic, you need to ask a second question: How good are these sources? You can find all types of material on almost any topic, but what makes one resource better than another? Since your desire is to evaluate, synthesize, and write on your topic fairly, accurately, and wisely, you need to consider the sources carefully. Not all materials are created equal! You need to find out who the authors are, what qualifies them to produce material on your subject, what others say about their ideas, and what biases they bring to their research. Your reflections on this will add to your understanding of the topic and ultimately to the richness of your final paper. The next few pages provide guidance on evaluating sources.

  • What is a Scholarly Source?
  • Peer Reviewed
  • Basic Criteria for Evaluating Sources
  • Evaluating Internet Sources
  • Ethical Issues
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These pages were written by Glenn Remelts. and edited by Jeffrey L. Nyhoff and Nancy Zylstra
©2005 Calvin College, All Rights Reserved

If you encounter technical errors, contact rit@calvin.edu.