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