Articles in newspapers and magazines
Articles in scholarly and professional journals
(Be aware these sources often change in content and location. Sometimes they disappear completely, so be sure to copy all needed information the first time you see it.)
Electronic texts of books, poems, plays, etc.
Newspaper and magazine articles
Printed materials from organizations
The time we are living in has been called "the age of information." We are surrounded by sources. This would seem to make finding sources to use in a paper an easy matter, and it often does. The disadvantage is that not all sources are equal in quality, accuracy and reliability. This is especially true of materials found on the Internet. Therefore, it is your responsibility to judge the value of the sources that you are discovering.
Some aspects to consider:
Who or what produced the source?
Depending on the topic, is the source fairly current?
Does the source appear in a reliable, time-tested location?
Use your common sense and look for clues of style, tone, and slant. Most publications (including web pages) will include the credentials of the author.
According to Rosa and Eschholz, electronic sources can be especially difficult to evaluate. There are many types of information available on the Internet. Reliable, time-tested sources such as the New York Times have their own websites, while other magazines and journals have been converted to electronic format and are available through subscription services that are commonly found in libraries. Experts in a field may also create a web page to share information. The down side to the Internet is that anyone can create a web page, so the pages are likely to be of varying reliability
In evaluating an electronic resource, the general guidelines for evaluating sources apply, but there are some special aspects that you can consider to help you judge the source.
What type of web page are you viewing?
Web page Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) that end with .edu are from educational institutions; .org means that the originator is a non-profit organization; .com is for commercial groups and businesses (that are more likely to be trying to sell you a product than give you unbiased information).
Who is the author?
What individual or group is responsible for the web site? Find out if a group officially sanctions the site. Most experts will provide their credentials to verify what they say; if credentials are missing, it is best to be wary and skeptical.
What is the purpose?
Clarify the author's purpose for publishing a website-is it to share information or sell a product?
How is the information presented?
You should test for objectivity. Examine the text to see if advertising, opinion and facts are clearly distinguished. Look for any bias in the text.
Is the information accurate?
Determine if the given information is documented. Evaluate the quality of the writing to determine if the text is well-written and free of careless errors in spelling and grammar. Are there links to other sites that can be used to verify the information?
Is the information current?
Is the information given out-of-date? Usually it is best to use the most recent information available. The last update of the web page should be given.
Is the topic covered adequately?
Check that the web site is fully developed and extensive. You may want to check against printed equivalent resources (Rosa and Eschholz 36).