The Evaluation Process: A Two Step Approach
I. Evaluating the Resource:
- Who wrote the text?
- What qualifications (titles, experience) does the author posess?
- Have they written anything else? How are they viewed among their peers?
- Is the publisher an academic or university press? If the answer is yes you can reasonably assume that the work is of a high standard.
- Is the publisher a commercial press? Commercially published works may be quality sources but require due diligence in evaluating the work's content, audience and research.
- Is the work self-published? Only accept these works as valid resources if you have thoroughly evaluated the credibility of the author, the publisher and the content and have cross-referenced any research or facts you wish to use in your project.
- What year was the work published?
- Is this a new edition? If so, what changes have been made?
- Is your topic time-sensitive? Just because a work is older does not mean that it is not relevant for your topic. Historical and literary sources may stand the test of time but if your project involves medicine, technology or law you may wish to limit your research to current resources only.
II. Evaluating the Text:
- For whom is the text written? Does the author use technical terms (academic or professional audience) or lay speech?
- Are their any graphics? Are they pictures or charts/graphs?
- Does the article cover a few subjects in great detail or is it a broader overview with few specifics?
- Does the resource relate to your topic?
- Is the information unique or can it be found in other, more credible sources?
- Is the information well-organized and clearly presented?
- Are there any factual or grammatical errors?
- Is the information current or does the text contain outdated research methods and disproven ideas?
- Are the facts and/or arguments backed by references to credible authors and research? Is there a bibliography or works cited list?
- Is the intended purpose of the text to inform or is it propaganda?
- Does the author use impartial speech? Are the author's assertions backed by logic and relevant data?
- The presence of bias or argumentative speech does not automatically invalidate a resource. Many, if not most, quality texts present an argument or the author's conclusions and opinions on a topic. A researcher must look closely at all spects of a resource and its author to determine if the author's intent is to present information, a reasoned conclusion or to manipulate the reader into believing their point of view.