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How to Evaluate Research Sources

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Making Good Decisions

When engaging in academic research, you have to be a savvy information shopper and a savvy consumer, too. You must:

  1. Know where and how to search efficiently to find the best information for your purposes.
  2. Make good decisions regarding the quality and appropriateness of your information sources, including assessing whether a resource is trustworthy and up-to-date.
  3. Know who has rights to the work you use.
  4. Know how to properly give others credit for their ideas.
  5. Know the extent to which you can ethically remix or synthesize ideas and information in your own work.


-Quoted from The Digital Literacy Project produced by Cornell

Evaluating Information Sources

"Skepticisim is a Powerful Tool"

Whether buying a new laptop or choosing to believe what your high school enemy said about the person you're dating, you're constantly evaluating information--can it be believed? Some information, like journal articles published by a reputable publisher, have been reviewed by others first. Other information isn't first filtered through reputable sources. Your skepticism is a powerful tool in evaluating all kinds of information.

Academic information comes in different formats, but there are some common elements that will help you decide what's credible. Consider:

  • Authorship. Who is the author or producer of the information? Who is the publisher? What experience or education does the author have in this area?
  • What is the motive or intention for sharing this information? Educational? For profit? To sway public opinion for political purposes? This will help you consider the degree of objectivity of the information.
  • How current is the information? How stable is it (will it be accessible in a year)?
  • Is the information presented with verifiable facts? Are there references?
  • Has the information been reviewed by experts? Do others you trust believe the information is credible?


- Adapted & quoted from Post University's "Evaluating Information Sources"

- Picture from Rickydavid


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