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Get Started with Research

Quick Guide

When you encounter any source, consider:

  1. Authority- Who is the author? What is their point of view?
  2. Purpose- Why was this source created? Who is it created for?
  3. Publication- Where was it published? What is the reputation of the publisher? In what format was it published?
  4. Relevance- What is the scope? How is it relevant to your project?
  5. Date of Publication- When was it produced? It is current? Is there more recent research on the topic?
  6. Documentation- Did they cite sources?  Are other sources mentioned in the piece?  Who are these other sources?

Long Guide

Authority

  • Who is the author?
  • What is the author's background?
    • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given? What are they?
  • What else has the author written?
  • Is there contact information for the author?
  • In what fields and contexts does the author have expertise?
    • Does the author represent a particular set of views?
    • Do they represent certain demographic groups?
    • Do they prioritize some sources of information over others?

Purpose

  • What questions does this source attempt to answer?
  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
    • Is this purpose clear?
  • Who is the intended audience?
    • Is it for scholars?
    • Is it for the general public?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?

Publication and Format

  • Where was it published?
  • Was it formally peer reviewed?
  • Does the publisher have any biases or editorial positions?
  • Where geographically was it published?
  • In what format was it published?
    • Does this format tell you something about the purpose or intended audience?

Relevance

  • How is this source relevant to your research?
  • What is the scope of the coverage?
    • is it a general overview or in depth coverage?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level?

Date of Publication

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • What has changed in the field since the date of publication?
  • Has the information been revised?
  • Does your topic require current information or will order sources work?

Documentation

  • Are there cited source?
    • If not, are there other ways to verify the claims?
  • Who is cited?
    • Is the author affiliated with the authors they are citing?
  • Is the evidence used appropriately?
    • Is the evidence taken in the proper context?
    • Are facts being selectively chosen to prove a point?