Evaluation an information source
Establishing the authority of a document?
Can you identify the author(s)?
What credentials does the author(s) have?
Scholarly sources will list the author’s degrees
What affiliations does the author have?
A scholarly source will often be written by someone who is affiliated with a university.
What else has the author written?
Is the language of the source technical and full of jargon or is the language general and easy to comprehend?
Does the source contain statistics, graphs, or tables?
Does a university press or professional organization publish the source?
Is the information source (i.e. book, article or website) an overview of your topic or is it focused just on one aspect of your research topic?
Does this information match the breadth of your research question?
When was the information published?
Are you researching a scientific or technology related topic?
Timeliness is critical with scientific information.
When was the information last updated?
Is this a 2nd or higher edition?
Documentation (scholarly sources will have documentation)
Does the source have a bibliography and/or footnotes?
Does the author consult other sources?
Is this an editorial?
Is the author’s point of view easy to see?
Is the information published by an organization that has established editorial position on the topic?
Does this work cite, agree with, or update other sources on your topic?
Does this source cover a variety of viewpoints?
Primary vs. secondary research
Primary research is original research findings for the first time.
Examples: journal article or book presenting a new theory or findings
Secondary research is an evaluation or overview of previously presented research.
Example: Textbook, encyclopedia, Annual Reviews.
Is this a primary or secondary source?
Primary sources are first hand documents or data. A poem, novel, diary, eyewitness account and research data can all be primary documents. New research is often based on primary documents.
Secondary documents give an overview or interpretation of primary source material.