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Make sure you're using credible websites for your class papers and projects by following these steps:
Determine who wrote the website.
An individual author or an organization?
What kind of organization is it?
What credentials does the author have?
Any evidence of the author's expertise?
Often websites have an "About Us" or "Contact" section where you can find information about the author.
Determine why the website exists.
To inform you?
To persuade you to believe in something?
To sell you a product?
Determine how the information is presented.
What type of language and style does the author use (academic, popular, argumentative, persuasive, poorly written, etc)?
Are sources carefully cited?
Does the author offer evidence, arguments, or sources for positions and claims?
Look for a recent copyright date.
When was the information produced?
If the website hasn't been updated in more than a couple years, the information will no longer be current.
Evaluating Articles & Books
You can evaluate whether books, articles, or other sources would be right for your project by following many of the same criteria you use to evaluate websites.
Who's the author?
Anyone can write a book or article. Just because someone has an opinion does not mean that he/she is an authority on the subject.
Articles written by scholars (experts in their field--like your professors!), which you can find in academic journals, are held to a high standard and are evaluated by other experts for credibility, accuracy, and quality of writing. Similarly, articles written by newspaper or magazine staff members are held to a higher standard than letters-to-the-editor and opinion pieces, which are submitted by the general public
What's the author's background? What makes him/her qualified to write a book (or article) on this topic?
Why did the author write this book/article?
Is it informative, persuasive, biased?
How is the information presented?
Is it well written?
Are the author's sources cited?
Does the author back up his/her claims with evidence, or does he/she spout unfounded opinions?
How current is the book/article? Research builds upon earlier work. If the article isn't current, the information presented will not reflect contemporary knowledge of the issue.