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COMM 190: Sponsored Content (Fall 2019): Evaluating Sources

library resources to help with annotated bibliography assignment for comm 190 b

How to evaluate a source


Does it answer your question or contribute to your research?

When considering the relevancy of a source, there are several things to ask yourself:

  • Is the scope of the source is appropriate for your research? Does the source provide a general overview of your topic or is it focused specifically on a single aspect of your topic?
  • Who is the intended audience for the source? Is the information too basic or too technical? Does it assume you have prior knowledge about the topic?
  • How many sources have you found? Have you searched thoroughly enough to find the most relevant sources available?


Is the content presented current enough for your project?

When considering the currency of a source, ask yourself:

  • Was this source published recently or is it older? Does your research call for the use of very current sources (e.g. medical research) or can you use older sources (e.g. historical research)?
  • If you are evaluating a website or other frequently updated source, does the website list the date it was last updated and is the date current enough for your research?


Is the information provided correct?

When considering accuracy, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has the source been edited or peer-reviewed?
  • Has the author supplied a list of references for their work? Does the list of references include scholarly sources?
  • Does the source include spelling or grammatical errors? Is the source logical, well organized, and professional in appearance?


Does the author have expertise on the topic about which he/she is writing?

When considering authoritativeness, ask yourself:

  • Who is the author? Is he or she a subject expert on the topic? What are the author's credentials?
  • Is the source sponsored or published by a reputable organization or institution?


Is there bias or a slant given to the information provided?

When considering the objectiveness of a source, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What point of view does the author represent? Is the source arguing for or against something? Does the source contain mostly factual information or is it opinion-based?
  • Is the source associated with an organization or institution that is known for promoting a certain point of view or opinion?

Note: It's okay to use information from sources that contain strong arguments or opinions, but it's always a good idea to acknowledge the author's view.


Evaluating Articles

When you find a source, you should critically evaluate it to determine if it is useful and usable.

Types of Articles.

You will most often be asked to use a certain type of source: Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed, Academic, or Refereed.

What is the difference?

While some disciplines and databases may differ in their designations, these are the general definitions:


These terms are interchangeable and simply mean they are articles meant for a scholarly/academic audience and are typically written by scholars and academics.


These terms are also interchangeable and describe the process the article goes through before it is published.  It will be reviewed by "peers" or other scholars and academics familiar with the topic before it is accepted, sent back for revisions, or rejected for publication.

Why do I need to know this?

  • It is helpful to understand why many faculty prefer you use these types of articles.
  • You use articles and other sources to provide evidence of or support for your claims.  Using these types of articles ensures you are using quality sources to do that.

Ways to Determine Type of Article

• Use a database
Databases have tools that can help you narrow results to scholarly and/or peer review
• Google the source/publication title
–Journal information
–About this journal
If you Google the source/publication title and go to their webpage, look for Journal Information or About This Journal and it will tell you if it is scholarly, and/or peer-reviewed.

Ulrich's is a database that has information on every published journal.  To check a publication title, search for its title and look for the icon above.  That signifies it is Refereed AKA peer reviewed.


Critical Thinking

Cheatsheet for Critical Thinking