How do you know if your information is current enough?
Very current sources need to be used when the field or topic is changing rapidly. Use historical sources when appropriate.
When was the source published?
Find the date in a book or journal by looking for the copyright information. On a website, look for the “last updated” information.
How do you know if your sources are authoritative?
Has the instructor mentioned the author or creator of the source?
•Have you seen the author mentioned in other sources?
•Is the author affiliated with a reputable institution, organization, or association?
•What are the author’s credentials (education, experience, etc.)?
•What is the author’s bias or viewpoint?
Who is the publisher? A university press or professional organization often indicates authority. The website’s URL gives clues to the organization (.org), educational institution (.edu), governmental body (.gov), or for-profit company (.com).
The word “journal” in the title usually indicates greater complexity and depth of articles than a popular magazine.
How do you know if your sources are scholarly?
Are the main points clearly stated in a logical order?
Are the author’s arguments well-supported?
Does the author present alternative viewpoints?
Is it clear when the author’s opinions are being stated?
Is the information factual? Can it be verified?
Is there a bibliography (list of references)?
Who published the source? A university press or professional organization as the publisher usually indicates scholarliness.
Check for advertisements. Advertisements, especially in the middle of articles, may indicate that a periodical is more popular than scholarly. Illustrations, such as tables, graphs, or charts, should add to the textual information. Illustrations used for entertainment purposes or to draw the eyes may indicate the source is more popular than scholarly.
Credit: This page was copied from the GVSU Research Skills Tutorial which is no longer available. 9/10/15