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Evaluate Your Sources

Step 8

As you search for, gather, and read information on your topic, you will find that the amount of information available on many topics can be overwhelming. If your purpose for writing a research paper is simply to find 10 sources, you can probably find those sources without a great deal of trouble. However, if you want to find 10 "good" sources for your paper, you must analyze and carefully select those sources that will make your research paper a good one.

Evaluating sources means looking at the content of books, magazines, newspapers, etc. to determine if the information is reliable and making sure that the source actually answers your research question.

Let's say you are writing a research paper on treatments for juvenile diabetes and you find an excellent article (well written by a specialist, current information, plenty of supporting facts, included in a medical journal) on the causes of juvenile diabetes. Despite the fact the article is obviously reliable, for your paper it is not a "good" source. Why not? The article is not about your research topic. You are writing on the ‘treatments’ not the ‘causes.’

When evaluating sources, keep in mind that information has been evaluated by an editorial process before it is included in printed indexes or the electronic databases in GALILEO. You are generally the sole evaluator of information on the Internet.

WANT MORE on evaluating sources?
> Unit 9 > Evaluating Sources
> Unit 7 > Tips for Using the Internet

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