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How do I...get started with academic research

Evaluating Sources

Type of publication: Scholarly, peer-reviewed journal? Newspaper? Is it a book or a web site?

Author: Who is the author- are they an expert in this field? What else has he/she written? What are their credentials and profession? Can you detect a bias or point of view from the author?

Publisher: Government, university or commercial press? Is it a corporation, a government agency or a professional organization?

Audience: Who is this information intended for? Is this for the general public or people with a particular bias?

Publication date: How current is the information? When was it published/created?

Purpose: Was it written to inform, persuade, entertain or sell?

Usefulness and coverage: How is it relevant to your topic? Is it in-depth coverage, or only partial? Primary or secondary source? What kind of evidence is presented?

Links/reference/bibliography: Are they reliable? Do the links work? Is the bibliography comprehensive, appropriate, and/or sufficient?

Also helpful is UC Berkeley Library's great guide for evaluating web pages.