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Evaluating Sources - Maple Woods

Determine whether the sources you use for research are reliable and appropriate for your paper or speech

Library Databases

Our library databases are a great way to find scholarly articles written by experts, as well as magazine and newspaper articles written by journalists. We have a selection of both multidisciplinary and subject-specific databases available.

Ask Yourself . . .

Articles tend to focus on more narrow topics. While scholarly articles go through a peer review process, newspaper and magazine articles do no. Ask yourself the following questions when evaluating articles:

  • Is the author identified?  Are author credentials listed?  You can often find information about the author by doing a quick web search.
  • When was the article written? Is the information current?
  • Does the article answer your research question?
  • Look at the length of the article.  Is it long enough to provide sufficient content?
  • What is the level of language:  Easy enough for a child? Generally understood by an adult? Scholarly? Technical?
  • Is the information accurate? You can look at other sources to see if the author's claim is supported by experts in the field.
  • Does the article contain a list of references?
  • What is the purpose of the article:  To inform?  Persuade?  Entertain? 
  • What type of publication is it:  Scholarly? Professional or technical? Periodical? Newspaper? 

Be Careful of Book Reviews

Many publications publish book reviews. These are great sources of information IF you want to know about a book, since the review will give you a description and evaluation of that book. Maybe you will even want to look in the online catalog to see if the library has a copy of that book.

But if you are looking for articles with information about your topic, do not use a book review.

How can you identify a book review? At the top of the review, you will see a book citation with information such as title, author, and date.