Now that you’ve started finding sources, you’ll need to evaluate them before committing to them, but this doesn’t have to be time consuming. Just ask yourself two questions: Is this source trustworthy? And is this source suitable? Not every suitable source is trustworthy, and not every trustworthy source is suitable.
Consider the following: will this source help me answer the research questions that I am posing in my project? Will it help me learn as much as I can about my topic? Will it help me write an interesting, convincing essay for my readers?
Determining Trustworthiness (or Credibility)
Trustworthiness of sources may not be as easy to determine, especially if you’re in a hurry, aren’t paying attention, or haven’t checked your own biases at the door. Pay attention to things like:
- When the source was published or last updated - look for the most recent research on your topic but newer isn’t always better. Depending on the topic, it’s fine to use older material.
- The degree of bias in the source - is the author making an attempt to stay objective and include various points of view or is s/he/they pushing a point of view for other reasons?
- Whether or not the author supports what they’re saying with evidence - if the author is making lots of claims without citing them, consider looking for something else. (Source)
Evaluating Sources for Credibility Video (3:14)