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Library Orientation SO: Evaluate Sources

This page will help you learn how to evaluate resources you find.

Evaluating Sources

Do you need scholarly, accurate, and reliable sources? Click the link below to learn how to evaluate the books, journal articles, websites, and ebooks you come across in your research.

There is a saying in computer science, "Garbage in, garbage out." It is the same for research papers. If you choose biased or low-quality sources, your paper is going to be of low quality as well. Higher quality sources make you look more credible as an author and an expert on your topic. 

Run all of your potential sources through the CAARP test. 

Currency: More recent information is informed by the full range of research on your topic, and some information, such as science and current events, changes very quickly. If two resources are similar, choose the newer one.

Authority: If the author is not an expert (advanced degree and/or works in that field), the source is less credible.

Accuracy: Is someone other than the author evaluating the information before publication? When your professors ask you to find a peer-reviewed resource, they are looking for you to use a source that comes from a peer-reviewed journal. These articles are written by experts and evaluated by other experts before they are published. 

Relevance: You want the sources that are the best fit for your topic. Do they include a lot of coverage of information related to your thesis statement? Are they written at a college level? Don't just pick the first five results in your search. 

Purpose: Be careful about biased sources. You are looking for sources that inform rather than persuade. See the section on Controversial Issues for more information. 

Make sure you download the handout linked above so you can apply the CAARP test while you are researching. Your job as a researcher is to find the best sources you can. If you are having trouble, please Ask a Librarian!

CAARP Test