Marymount California University Library

PSY 348: Writing for the Social & Behavioral Sciences

Be Critical of the Sources You Are Thinking of Using for Research

Ask these questions when evaluating any resource you are considering using in your research:

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

 When was the information published or posted?

 Has the information been revised or updated?

 Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

 Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?

 Who is the intended audience?

 Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?

 Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?

Authority: The source of the information.

 Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?

 What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?

 Is the author qualified to write on the topic?

 Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?

Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

 Where does the information come from?

 Is the information supported by evidence?

 Has the information been reviewed?

 Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?

 Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?

 Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

 What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?

 Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?

 Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?

 Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?

 Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

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