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Box Repository: Evaluating by Source Type

Repository of different types of boxes and content. Go into your guide and "Add New Box" and select "Reuse Existing Box" to link to boxes here. Boxes on your page will be updated automatically when box updates occur.

Books

Books are generally reliable, but should d still be critically evaluated to ensure that they are relevant to your research and free from bias.

Questions to ask

  • Who is the author? Can you locate the author's credentials? 
  • Was the book publishished recently? Has it been revised or updated?
  • Who is the publisher? (Is it a University press or academic publisher, i.e. Temple University Press?)
  • Does it present information objectively? Does it seem biased? 
  • Does it add to or support your research? 

Places to Look

  • Look for an introdructory message or preface to learn more about the work's purpose or any biases that may be present  
  • Look within, sometimes at the back, for a list of references, works cited, a bibliography or footnotes to determine where the author got their information
  • Check the book jacket, or back of the book, for biographical information about the author(s).
  • Check the back of the title page for a publication date and publisher information.

Websites

Because just about anyone can post information on the free web, information found there is not necessarily reliable. Despite the possible unreliability of free web resources, there are some legitimate and useful research materials out there. 

Questions to Ask 

  • Does the website present information in an objective manner?
  • Is it a .org, .edu, or .gov site? These are generally reliable, but there is no guarantee that the information is current or unbiased. 
  • Was the information published recently? Has it been updated recently?
  • Does it present information objectively? Does it seem biased? 
  • Does it add to or support your research? 

Places to Look

  • Look near the top and bottom of the web page for information about the author, publication date, or "date last updated" 
  • For organizations or associations, look for an "About Us" link or any information that describes the organization's mission. 
  • If you can't find any information on the author or organization, do a search in Google for them. Other sites may provide more information about the credentials of an author (e.g. a faculty page on a college or university website)

Articles from Journals, Magazines, & Newspapers

Academic journal articles are usually reliable and written by authors with expertise and often provide information on research findings. They go through a process of peer-review to ensure the integrity and quality of information. You still want to evaluate academic journal articles critically to ensure that they are relevant to your research and free from bias.

Newspaper and Magazine articles, on the other hand, are far less reliable than academic journal articles. News articles are written by journalists and are not always backed up with research. Though they are edited, they are not necessarily edited by people with knowledge of the subject matter.

Questions to ask

  • Who is the author? Is he or she an expert in the field? Where is he or she employed? Is it a reputable institution? 
  • Does the author have strong ties to any corporations or organizations?
  • Where is the article published? An academic journal? A newspaper? A magazine?
  • Is the information current? This may not be an issue in some fields. For instance, you'll want up-to-date research on medical and legal issues, but older information may be relevant for historical and humanities-based research.

Places to look 

  • For academic journal articles, read the abstract to determine whether the article supports or adds to your research. 
  • Check the database record or first page of the article for author name, publication date, and journal title.