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BIO 225: Poisoning the Planet

Criteria for Evaluating Sources

Here are some of the most important criteria or questions to consider when you evaluate any source:


Type of Source: What type of source are you evaluating?

  • Is it scholarly or popular?
  • If scholarly - is it a book, a book chapter, an essay, a primary research article, a review article, etc?
  • If popular - it is a website, a news article, a blog, etc?


Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?   


Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?


Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author and/or publisher?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Does the publisher have a reputation for high quality, credible information?


Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • Where does the information come from -- are there references given?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?


Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
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