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Choosing your sources: Evaluation Basics

With so much information available, it's hard to decide which sources to use. This guide will introduce you to the basics of evaluating your information sources.

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Need help?

For help with evaluating information or anything else, contact a reference librarian at (309) 298-2700 or stop by the reference desk on the 2nd floor of Malpass Library.

Types of information

Four periodical categories

  1. Scholarly or research-oriented
  2. Professional, trade or industry
  3. News or opinion
  4. Popular

Examples

  1. PMLA, The Journal of American History
  2. American Libraries, Advertising Age
  3. New York Times, Chicago Tribune
  4. Time, Newsweek

Getting the good stuff

Being a student in the 21st century means dealing with lots and lots of information. This can make research difficult because it means you have to use your evaluation skills to choose the information that will be most useful. Take a look at this video from BYU for some basic tips on choosing the best sources for your paper:

More tips and criteria

CRAAP test

There are many different criteria that you can use when choosing or evaluating sources. One method is the *CRAAP test

Currency

Here, you assess the timeliness of the information. Look for when the resource was created or last updated. You'll also want to ask yourself if you need current information.

Relevance

You should also ask yourself if the information meets your needs. Does it answer your research question?

Authority

This is where you ask who is responsible for the information. Who wrote and published the information? What are the author and publisher's credentials?

Accuracy

You want to use only information that is reliable, truthful and correct. Is the information supported by evidence? Does the author use an unbiased, neutral tone?

Purpose

You should figure out why the information exists. Try to focus on information that is intended to inform, not mislead or persuade. Examine the author's intentions, assumptions and biases.

 

(*Created by Merriam Library, California State University, Chico.)

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