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Evaluating Resources: Sources

Identifying What You Need

Depending on your research, almost everything is a viable resource.  However, not every resource has equal value.  When evaluating a resource, consider the author and their qualifications, the publisher, the editing and review process, and the value as a part of the research process.

Scholarly Resources

Scholarly articles/journals - also known as peer-reviewed, these are published articles, written by experts in the field, that have gone through a process of submission, review, editing, and approval.  They are found in scholarly journals.

(telltale signs: title, author credentials clearly stated, abstract, presentation and discussion of data, conclusion, future research considerations, list of cited references)

See here or here. (examples do not mean endorsements)


Books/Book chapters - academic books are, in general, long explorations of a given topic, written and compiled by experts, that have gone through a process of editing and revision.

(telltale signs: reputable or University publisher, author credentials and affiliations, focused and in-depth treatment of subject, cited references)

See here or here (which you can find here). (examples do not mean endorsements)

Non-Scholarly Resources

Popular articles/magazines - written for a variety of audiences and purposes (entertainment, education, persuasion, etc), in general they are readable, feature minimal citations, if any, and appear in journals that appeal to a wide audience.  They are often well-researched and nuanced, but lack the depth and focus of scholarly articles.  Alternatively, they may be superficial analyses of events and issues.

(telltale signs: lack of rigorous data collection and review of past research, "catchy" headlines and graphics, appear in publications with splashy advertising, author credentials not easily found)

See here and here. (examples do not mean endorsements)


Digitally created content - blogs, Twitter, personal websites, basically anything that falls into a "self-published" category of online content.  Even with experts in a field, self-published content has most likely not been through a process of editing and review (see literally anyone's Twitter feed), and most experts will cite their sources, which should be scholarly, and which you should use instead.

(telltale signs: web publishing software, personal copyright, "opinions stated are my own" disclaimers, lack of editorial oversight, annoying advertisements)

See here and here. (examples do not mean endorsements)


News outlets - Trusted venues of news can be a never-ending debate, so instead look for news stories that build on previous stories, are verifiable across multiple outlets, avoid sensational headlines and obvious bias, and are transparent regarding fact-checking, corrections, and sources.

(telltale signs: timely stories informed by cited sources and quotations, evidence of multiple points of view, clear reportage of verifiable facts and events, reputation)

See here and here (examples do not mean endorsements)


"News" outlets - Organizations with limited credibility tend to publish more sensational, "clickbait"-y headlines, unbalanced sources and quotations from individuals with questionable or unrelated expertise, unverifiable stories, and a general lack of editorial standards.

(telltale signs: YELLING HEADLINES, prominent advertisements, noticeable omissions of news, formatting based on ideology/bias, misleading graphics, inappropriate or no citations, not part of news continuum)

See here and here. (examples do not mean endorsements)