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COMS 1301: Public Speaking: Evaluating Sources

Guide for Communication 1301 course.

Created by NCSU Library


CURRENCY – timeliness of information

  • When was the information published?
  • Is the information current and up-to-date?
  • Has it been revised or updated? When? Should it have been updated?
  • If online: are the links functional?

RELEVANCE – uniqueness of information and importance to research needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. too elementary or too advanced)?
  • Can you find the same or better information in another source?

AUTHORITY – source of information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author’s credentials? Any organizational affiliations?
  • Is this author qualified to write on the topic?
  • If online: examine the domain (.gov, .edu, or .com). Can you find the author’s contact information?

ACCURACY – reliability and correctness of information

  • Is the information supported by evidence? Can you verify it from another source?
  • Has the information been peer reviewed or refereed?
  • Does the language seem biased? Is the tone free of emotion?
  • Are there any typos, spelling, or grammatical errors?

PURPOSE – presence of bias, reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information: to inform, teach, sell, entertain, etc.?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Is the point-of-view objective and impartial?
  • Do the authors make their intentions or purpose clear?

Primary v. Secondary

UCSD Social Sciences & Humanities Library video that defines primary sources (versus secondary) of information in the humanities.

For more help on primary & secondary sources go here.