Checklist: Evaluating Sources

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Word Checklist

  • Has what I've found been vetted?

    What process of academic, scientific, or editorial oversight has your source gone through? Is it material published by a scholarly journal, by a major academic press, or by a recognizable nonpartisan organization?

  • Who is the author, and what do I know about the author?

    Recall that an author could be one individual, a group of people, or an organization. Regardless, it is always important to ask what you know about the author. Ask yourself who is taking responsibility for the research material you have found. If nobody is willing to take that responsibility—that is, if no author information is readily available—then you should skip that source.

  • What am I reading?

    This is not a question about comprehension, as in, "Do I understand this?" When we ask, "What am I reading?" we are trying to determine whether a research source is largely opinion, fact, or something in between. Remember that just because something is opinion doesn't mean it is an untrustworthy source. It simply means you have to be careful to determine what author bias might have informed that opinion.