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A Crash Course in Lit Reviews: Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating the currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose of sources you find is a crucial step in the process of writing research. The questions you ask are similar whether you are looking at books, journal articles, magazine articles, Web pages, audio files, or film clippings. Evaluating information encourages you to think critically and make decisions whether the source is appropriate for your paper/topic/class/assignment.


C- Currency

R - Relevancy

A - Authority

A - Accuracy

P - Purpose

Types of Sources

Popular: Sources published in newspapers and magazines intended for general audience. 

Scholarly: Well researched sources that have been written for scholars, students, and experts in the discipline area.

Peer Reviewed: Articles that have been evaluated by other professionals in the field to check for accuracy and adherence to disciplinary standards.

Know the Difference

Article: Articles are the individual "stories" published in a newspaper, magazine, or journal. For example, the story about the Rangers published in Sports Illustrated is an article.

Journal: Journals contain several articles published about a specific subject area and are typically scholarly. For example, the article about stem cells was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Database: Databases index millions of articles published in thousands of newspapers, magazines, and journals. There are databases that index sources from many different discipline areas, while others are subject specific. For example, the New York Times can be accessed by searching the database Lexis Nexis Academic.