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Is the purpose to entertain, sell, persuade, or inform/teach?
Journal articles are often designed to inform or teach. Books and websites could have any of these or a combination of the purposes above. So it is important to determine why the source was created and if it is appropriate for your research. For websites in particular, looking at their "About Us" page or "Mission Statement" can help you evaluate purpose.
Accuracy is the reliability and truthfulness of the source. Here are a few indicators of an accurate source:
Based on the above the source could be accurate, inaccurate, a mixture of accurate and inaccurate, or hard to tell.
The author is the individual or organization who wrote the information in the book, in the journal article, or on the website. If no author is listed, there may be another contributor instead. For example, an editor or a translator. A credible author has:
The credibility of the publisher can contribute to the authority of a source. The publisher can be a person, company or organization. Authoritative publishers:
Relevance describes how related or important a source is to your topic. While a source may be credible, it does not necessarily mean it is relevant to your assignment. To determine relevance, you should:
A publication date is an important part of evaluating the credibility of a source and its appropriateness for your topic. It is generally best to use content that was recently published or updated, but depending on your assignment, it may be appropriate to use older information.
For example, a journal entry from Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War is too outdated to use in a discussion about modern politics and war, but would be appropriate for a paper about the Civil War. Consider the following when evaluating currency:
After analyzing your source, do you believe it is credible, not credible, partially credible, or are you unsure? If you are still unsure, it may help to ask your instructor a librarian for assistance.