As you examine a source you think you may want to use, think about these questions to determine if and how that source may fit into your research.
- Can the factual information be easily verified? Are sources cited?
- Are they from reputable sources?
- Is the writing clear and well organized without typos, spelling, or grammatical errors?
- Who is the author or sponsor of the information and why should you believe him/her/them? (What are their credentials?)
- Is there a way to establish the legitimacy of the author or sponsor? Contact information, etc.
- Is the source affiliated with a larger, reputable organization?
- When was the piece first written or most recently updated?
- Is the time frame appropriate for the information needed?
- So, if you are speaking on the American Civil War women (civil war was 1861-1865), could you use a diary written by a woman in 1863? Is this a current source?
- Is any bias evident?
- Is there advertising or sponsorship?
- Is the information intended to inform or to persuade?
- What audience is the piece intended for?
- Is the information complete?