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ENGL 1301 SO Stafford: Evaluating and Citing Sources

Research guide for Tyesha Stafford's ENGL 1301 class.

Citing Sources

Many students wait until they finish writing their paper before citing their sources. They may find themselves “on a roll,” and will not want to stop to check or to cite their sources, thinking they will add their citations later. It is a better idea to cite your sources as you find them and use them.  Use these tips to help ensure that documenting your sources is quick and easy!

  1. When you decide to use a source, be sure to copy all the information required to develop a citation.
  2. When you add a quote to your paper, document the page number (or the paragraph number if no page number is present) of where the quote was found.
  3. Also, be careful when you cut and paste your quote from one of our database articles to your paper. It is all too easy, while writing, to cut and paste a quotation without also jotting down the citation information. Forgetting to document a source is considered plagiarism.

The best way to make sure you do not forget to cite the sources you use - cite while you write!


You will primarily be citing your sources in MLA format.  We have a lot of tools that can help with this.  If you need to create original citations, refer to the library's Style Citation, MLA handout or stop by the library or the Writing Center for help.

Most of the library databases will create an MLA citation for you.  Look around for the Cite or Cite This link on the article page.  If you email the article to yourself, the email window usually asks which citation style you need.  If you have any trouble finding this, please contact the library.

If you are using your own MLA Style book, make sure it is the 8th edition!

Other Citation Resources

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

Confused about Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals?

For some assignments your instructor may ask you to locate scholarly, or peer-reviewed articles. Not sure what peer-review is all about? Check out the tutorial, "Peer Review in 3 Minutes" from North Carolina State University.  If you still have questions, ask a librarian at any of your TCC campus libraries - you can contact us in person, as well as by phone, email or chat!

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

Emma and Len from Ohlone College examine the differences between scholarly and popular sources as they prepare for a psychology class assignment...

CA.A.R.P Test

The following is a list of questions to help you evaluate information that you find. Some questions, or criteria, will be more important than others, depending on the project you are working on. If you're not sure how certain criteria apply to your information source, ask a librarian for help!


Key: ** indicates criteria is for Web sources only

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links functional? **

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? (examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net) **

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

  • How does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

Evaluating Information –Modified CAARP Test
created by: Meriam Library, California State University, Chico

Need Help

For help via e-mail, just ask a librarian.

For help via telephone, just call:

NE Campus (817) 515-6629

NW Campus (817) 515-7725

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TR Campus (817) 515-1220

For help in person, visit your campus library during operating hours: