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Evaluating Supporting Material

In order to evaluate material that you might be using to support your writing, it is important to consider the:

  • Authority of the Author(s)
  • Bias(es) of the Authors
  • Currency of the Material

    In order to begin evaluating your sources, the following questions should help in identifying the credibility and reliability of their research.

    Criteria Questions
    • Who is the author?
    • What expertise does this author have on the topic?
    • What sources did the author use to support their ideas?
    • Are their findings based upon fact or opinion?
    • Did the author provide original source information?
    • Does this article/research come from a peer-reviewed journal/authority?
    • What biases/prejudices does the author have?
    • What organization does the author work for? Does this organization have any inherent biases?
    • Does the author use a lot of “I-language” that is subjective? (I think…, I feel…, etc.).
    • Does the author list any potential conflicts of interest?
    • How recent is the research/article? (However, not all “old” article are inherently bad!)
    • If this article is not recent, are the findings applicable today?
    • How many other authors have cited this article recently? (However, please note that you might miss good articles if this is your only criteria).