What is source evaluation and why does it matter?
You’ve probably been told “don’t believe everything you hear (or read)” before. It's important to think critically and to evaluate the sources you come across in your research. There are a number of questions and criteria you can use to help you evaluate information in order to sort out fact from fiction, and to figure out what information will be most helpful to you, whether you are researching something for school, work, or your personal life.
Evaluating sources tips
You'll want to consider a few areas when you evaluate your sources.
Is the information valid? Make sure the information you are using is truthful and accurate. If the information you are relying on for your research is faulty, your own research project won't be very strong.
Pay attention to bias: Bias basically means that the author or publication is taking a side in an issue. For example, if you're researching oil drilling and find a paper written by someone who works for an oil company, then that information may be biased in favor of drilling.
Remember: Bias is not necessarily a bad thing. You just need to be aware of whether or not your information is leaning one way or the other and be prepared to address that bias in your research.
Is the information relevant to your own research topic? If the source doesn't fit into your research paper then it won't be very useful, regardless of how authoritative it is.
Here are some questions to get you started evaluating your sources.
Consider the following:
Questions for websites:
Questions for books and articles: