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GLS102: Comparative Government and Politics: Evaluating Sources

Evaluation

Evaluating the information that you find is an important part of conducting research - especially sources you find on the open web. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking at information:

  • Who is the author or publisher of this information? What background, expertise, or credentials help to prove the quality and trustworthiness of the source?
  • What type of publication does the information come from (i.e. book, journal, peer reviewed journal, magazine, website, etc.) and is it appropriate for the research?
  • When was the information published? Is the information current enough for your topic?
  • Where did the information in the publication come from? Are there references provided? Does it seem accurate or can it be checked elsewhere?
  • Why was this information published? Is it is meant to inform or persuade? Is there bias or does the information seem to be as objective as possible?
  • How will this information be helpful to your research? How is it relevant to your question or topic?

There are many different evaluation "tests" that can be used but the CRAAP Test from the California State University, Chico library provides a handy mnemonic and guide with questions to keep in mind while evaluating:

How do I know if a source is Scholarly?

Here are some characteristics of a scholarly source:

  • Author's credentials are listed and contact information usually provided.
  • May have more than one author.
  • A works cited or reference list is included.
  • Often written in technical language or discipline-specific terminology.
  • Meant for a specific audience of scholars, professionals, or students.
  • Research articles tend to have an abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, and conclusion.
  • If images are included, they are there to support the research.
  • Little to no advertising.
  • Take a look at the publication - in databases, you can often click on the publication title to find a profile to determine if it is a scholarly source. If you still are not sure, you can also search for the publication in Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory

Note: Sometimes "non-scholarly" materials are returned in results even if you are searching scholarly publications - these may include book reviews or editorials. Be sure to evaluate carefully and check the document type if you are searching in a database.