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AFRS 325: The Black Male

Evaluating Sources - A Checklist

Information is contextual, both from the view of the author as well as the user. Being a good evaluator of information comes down to asking questions. Below are some important considerations when evaluating sources for your course work.

Authorship

  • Is the author credited?
  • Does the author include a biography?
  • Does the author possess sufficient experience with the subject matter?
  • Research the author online. What do you find?

Evidence

  • Is the work based on collected data that support the arguments contained therein?
  • Does the work state how the data were collected?
  • Does the author cite external data that is published or otherwise accessible? E.g. census data.
  • Does the author cite the work of other experts or scholars in the field?
  • Is the work published in a peer-reviewed journal or subjected to scholarly review? 

Appropriateness

  • Know your assignment requirements. What kinds of sources (i.e. books, peer-reviewed journal articles, web) are acceptable?
  • Is the source sufficiently current to cite? In most cases, sources within 10 years of publication are preferred, unless you are examining the evolution (or history) of a topic.
  • What is the purpose of the source? Is it to educate? Or to promote goods, services or political support?

Bias

  • Biases are everywhere. Responsible authors know this and apply transparency in their methods.
  • Are the author's objectives explicitly stated?
  • Does the author consider multiple points of view?
  • Does the author support arguments and assertions with evidence?
  • Is the work explicit about who funded the research or paid the author? There may be conflicts of interest.
  • What is the general tone and accuracy of the author's writing? Is it appropriate for a scholarly medium?
  • Does the author avoid exaggerated or hyperbolic speech intended to sway your opinion? 

Misinformation

  • Fake news masquerades as the truth. It aims to make you doubt what you know (gaslighting). Be aware of this.
  • Misinformation and fake news is disseminated through unreliable and often extreme political channels. 
  • Don't get your news from social networks!
  • Is the information published through a reputable source? See Media Bias/Fact Check
  • Does the information attempt to shock you with extreme or outlandish claims?
  • If you suspect information is misleading, confirm the information through multiple historically reliable sources.
  • If in doubt use fact checkers: SnopesFactcheck.org, Politifact

Diversity

  • The most dominant voices in society dominate society's narratives. Does your topic apply to a diverse array of communities and their experiences?
  • Is the source inclusive of all voices pertinent to your topic?
  • Where applicable, seek viewpoints from marginalized communities to get to fullest understanding of your topic.

Evaluating Sources for Credibility

Evaluating information is imperative before using it in your research papers or presentations. Be prepared to fact-check claims that you come across, and pay attention to where the information is coming from. Use the tips on this page to learn how to identify bias as well as how to evaluate news, journal articles and websites.

Evaluating Sources for Credibility." North Carolina State University Libraries, published on YouTube 9 June  2015.

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