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How to Evaluate Resources

Are you choosing the best resources? Find out how to decide

Evaluating Resources

Once you have started searching and gathering information resources on a topic, the next step to take is to make sure you're using the best possible and most appropriate resources for your research. What you will decide is best will depend on the subject you're researching, the best practices of the discipline, and the types of information available for your topic. 

 

Why is is necessary to critically evaluate sources? 

When we talk about critical evaluation or “being critical,” we don’t mean that we are criticizing something or someone. Instead, it means we should be intentional and responsible in our use of a source.

Information sources can be biased, outdated, or unreliable.

Misinformation can lead to beliefs or ideas that are not based on reality.

A recent peer-reviewed study found that even a single exposure to an inaccurate piece of information can make subsequent misinformation on that topic seem more believable.
 

Scholarly versus Non-scholarly sources

We evaluate sources differently based on whether the source is a scholarly publication or a non-scholarly publication. 
A way we can ensure we are viewing information that is accurate is by going directly to scholarly sources.
 


Scholarly sources are written by people who have advanced subject expertise and credentials. 

There are different types of authority, but subject expertise, where a person is considered an expert in their field of study, is one of the most reliable ways to ensure you're getting good information. 

 

Scholarly publications include: 

  • Peer-reviewed journals
  • Books from academic publishers
  • Conference proceedings

Peer review

Peer review is a process where a research paper is reviewed by other scholars in that field. They will evaluate whether the research was conducted ethically if the findings make sense and if the conclusions drawn by the researchers are well-supported.
It is important to remember that not all scholarly sources are peer-reviewed. Books and conference materials can be written by people with subject authority but not have undergone the peer review process.