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Evaluating Sources   Tags: evaluatingsources, internet, researchskills  

An overview of evaluating sources, including strengths of different source types.
Last Updated: Feb 18, 2014 URL: Print Guide

Evaluating sources Print Page

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating sources is a crucial step in the process of library research.  Whether you're looking at a web page, citation, a physical item or an electronic version of a book, article or review, ask yourself the same questions. Is it a useful, reliable resource for your specific research need? Why?


Checking for Reliability

There are many things to consider when determining if a source is reliable.  This chart tells you what to look for in your sources.

Evaluating books

When evaluating a book, look for these:

The date - how old is the book, has newer information be published since this book was published? In some fields, especially the sciences, information changes rapidly making older books less useful.

Edition - has a newer edition come out, making the information in the book outdated?

Publisher - Books published by university presses tend to be scholarly

Content/Coverage - Does the book update other sources or give new information about the topic?

Writing style - Is the book organized logically, is there an index or table of contents?  Is the book easy to read? 

Author's credentials - what are the author's credentials?

Reviews - locate reviews of the book (try Proquest, Academic Search Premier or JStor) and see what others in the field thought of the book.

Help from a Librarian

If you need to speak to a librarian, you may call 716-888-8411 or stop in at the reference desk.


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