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Diamond Scholars

General Evaluative Criteria

How can you identify valuable sources for your research?

Evaluate each source for...

Currency
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • How is this source positioned within the current conversation surrounding your topic?
  • How does this source build upon previous schlolarship?
Relevance
  • Does the information relate to your topic or help answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience (scholars, the general population, a specific group)?
  • How do your research needs compare with those of the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (e.g. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
Authority
  • Who is responsible for the presentation of this information? (author, publisher, funding agency, etc.)
  • What are the author's credentials? (education, institutional affiliation, previous research, honors, etc.)
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Is the publication from a reliable publisher? What is the domain?
Accuracy
  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Can you verify the information presented using other sources like encyclopedia articles, government documents, statistical data, or primary sources?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Are other researchers citing this source?
Purpose
  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, persuade, entertain, sell?
  • Does the author meet the goals defined in the abstract or introduction?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and imparial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?