Evaluate Sources

This page will provide help judging the reliability and relevance of sources needed for your college level assignments.

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Supporting your Conclusions & Evaluating Sources

  • Reliable sources with supportive evidence are an expectation of college level research.
  • To determine if a source is reliable, ask yourself: Is it accurate, well-written, and current? Does it cover their topic thoroughly, have a clearly stated purpose, and provide supporting documentation?

Differentiating between Popular and Scholarly Articles

What makes an article scholarly?

Sometimes your professors will specify what types of sources you need to use for your assignment. Below are some tips to differentiate between common source types.

A scholarly source is a publication, with articles that document or discuss the results of original research. This is one of the primary methods used by researchers to communicate the results of their research to others in their field of study. Consequently the language used is often technical and discipline specific. The research is submitted to the publisher in a format which includes the methodology used to conduct the research and the results of the research. Sources are documented in a bibliography and the credentials of the author(s) are given in the paper. The scholarly source publishes the research after it has gone through a process of editing and review by a panel of experts in that specific field of study.

What makes an article popular?

A popular source is a publication, with articles written for the general public.  These articles report current events or summarize research. It is one of the primary methods used to communicate information to the public. Articles are usually a short overview of a topic written in everyday language. These articles tend to include pictures and advertisements. The information is often written by journalists who remain unnamed. Sources may be quoted, but popular sources do not include bibliographies.