Evaluating Articles and Information
Vast amounts of information are available through books, periodicals, and the Internet. However, a lot of it may not be useful or necessary for an assignment. Consider the following points when selecting your sources:
- Author. Who wrote the material, and what are their credentials? If an author is not listed, check for an organization or group who wrote the content.
- Currency. When was the information published? Is it recent or from the past? Does your assignment require the use of up-to-date information? For a web page, see if a date is provided for when it was posted or updated.
- Audience. For whom was the material written: the general public, students, or scholars?
- Relevance. Can some or all of the information be used in an assignment? Select materials with useful information.
- References. Does the article, book, or site list references or cite other works? Reliable sources of information often have bibliographies or references at the end of their content.
- Bias. Does the article contain opinions or facts? Does the author support a particular viewpoint?
Keep track of your sources in a research log or on note cards. Citation management software such as RefWorks can also be useful for maintaining an online list of citations or sources. This will help with recalling what has been used and in writing a bibliography. Include information about source material such as its title, author, and year published. Additional information may be needed, depending on the materials used:
(Journal, Newspaper, or Magazine):
Can't Find Sources?
If articles or information on a topic cannot be found, contact a librarian to help. In addition, consult with your professor to possibly change your topic. Sometimes a topic may need to be changed, and is common in the research process.