Evaluating Resources

Things to consider when evaluating a specific resource: 

Author -- What are the author's credentials? Is the author cited elsewhere? Is the author an expert in this area? Is the author associated with an institution or organization?

Publication Date -- When was the source published? Generally speaking, recency of publication matters more in the sciences than in the humanities.

Publisher -- Was the source published by a university press? This usually means that the source is a scholarly publication that contains reliable information.

Journal Title -- Is your article from a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal or a popular magazine? Is it a primary or a secondary source?

Intended Audience -- Who is the primary audience of the work? Is it written at an appropriate level for your research? Or is it too complex or too simplistic for your needs?

Objective Reasoning -- Is the work fact-based and can it be verifiably supported? Or is it opinion-based and primarily the author's interpretation of the facts?

Coverage -- Does your source substantially cover the subject matter? Does it substantiate, update, or add new information to existing research?

Writing Style -- Is the source easy to read and organized well? Is it easy to understand the author's main points?>

Evaluative Reviews -- What do reviewers think about your author's work? Has it created any controversy? Has it opened a new area for research or added valuable information to existing research? Look for book reviews in: 

  • Book Review Digest [REF Index Table 015 B724] 
  • Book Review Index [REF Index Table 015 G152]

Things to consider when evaluating your resources as a whole group:  

Quantity -- Do you have enough resources to support your thesis or argument? Can you cite varying points of view and types of material?

Diversity -- Do you cite from a variety of source types, such as books, scholarly journals, reliable Internet sites (if allowed by your professor)? Do you cite from primary and secondary sources?

Quality -- To assess the quality (validity) of your sources, consider the following: 

  • The tone and purpose of the publication. Are there any discernible motivations other than information dissemination? 
  • Does the author make any assumptions? Can/does the author support conclusions made in the work?


Other Resources -- Do your sources document their work by citing other reliable sources in their reference lists?

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