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Primary Sources: Evaluating Resources

 Evaluating Sources

When evaluating sources, consider the following:

Authority is Constructed and Contextual: Information resources reflect their creators' expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required. 

Scholarship as Conversation: Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations. 

Criteria for Evaluating Sources

Criteria for Evaluating Sources

Accuracy: How well-researched is the source?

Agreement: How well does the source support what you know/believe about the topic?

Authority: What is the author’s background?

Comprehensiveness: Does the source include all of the needed information?

Connections: Is the source easy to connect to other sources you’ve found?

Cost of Use: Does the source cost money to use?

Currency: How up to date is the source?

Ease of access: How easy is it to access the full text of the source?

Familiarity: How familiar is the source?

Format: What type of source is it? (e.g., book, scholarly article, website.)

Gaps: Does the source help fill in gaps in your knowledge?

Purpose: Why was the source written/created?

Ranking: How high or low in the search results does the source appear?

Relevance: How closely does the source match your topic?

Scholarliness: Is the source scholarly in nature?

Source: Hosier, Allison. (2022). Using context in information literacy instruction: beyond basic skills. ALA Editions.

Source Evaluation Methods

Peer Review

Prior to publishing a book or article that is considered scholarly, the research needs to be reviewed by one or more experts in the field. They may recommend it be published, give suggestions to strengthen the piece, or recommend that it not be published. You can limit your search to peer reviewed journals by checking the filter box in the library catalog and most databases.

Check out this great video from Steely Library NKU:

Source Evaluation Resources & Guides

Media Bias Chart

Differences between Magazines and Journals