Skip to Main Content


Is it Useful for this Project?

Useful or not?


  • contains facts illustrations or data you need
  • contains an overview which contributes to the context of your paper
  • contains a point of view that illustrates something you are trying to establish
  • exemplifies something - shows an example of xyz


  • it may not be from a scholarly journal (if required for the assignment)
  • it may be out of date
  • it may not contain any new information
  • it may be too narrow (or too broad) in coverage


Is this Reliable Information?

Six basic criteria to consider are:

  1. Authority
    • Is the person, organization, or institution responsible for the intellectual content of the information knowledgeable in that topic?
  2. Accuracy
    • Are there exaggerations, omissions, or errors? These are difficulty to identify if you use only one source of information. Always check as many different sources of information on your topic that you can.
  3. Objectivity/point of view/bias:
    • all views of an issue are presented
    • the topic is presented in a clear and logical manner
    • assertions, statements, opinions, etc. are documented
    • a variety of reliable sources are used to support the point being made
    • the purpose is clearly stated
  4. Coverage
    • an overview of a topic (or aspect) or
    • an in-depth analysis of a topic (or aspect) or
    • presents new information about a topic
    • Warning signs that coverage is not adequate:
      • presents only one point of view
      • clearly superficial
      • presents only a few aspects of a topic and none are discussed fully
  5. Currency
    • Is the information the most recent version?
    • Does it match your research question?  A 10 year old article on technological advances may not be your best bet if you are writing about recent inventions.
    • Depending on the type of information you are considering, here are some other date related questions:
      • date of copyright
      • date of publication
      • dates of sources cited
  6. Audience
    • The Identifying the intended audience of the information is another aspect of evaluating information. The intended audience determines the style of presentation, the level of detail, and the depth of coverage.
    • Some indications of the intended audience are:
      • highly technical language and complex analysis can indicate a technical, professional, or scholarly audience
      • substantive, serious tone without a lot of technical language is generally written for an educated lay audience
      • popular language, fairly simple presentations of a topic, little or no analysis, can indicate a general or popular audience
      • bibliographies are often compiled by or for those doing research on that topic

Citing your sources

The final step in research is Citation

The primary way to avoid plagiarism is to cite or list the sources you used in preparing your project. Citing sources is the way you tell your audience whose works you used. It has the side benefit of providing your audience with a bibliography of relevant items on that topic.

There are two aspects to citing sources.

  •  In-text citations that that refer to the specific information (quotations, page numbers etc.) within the source
  • Work Cited or Bibliography:  a list at the end of your project that records all of the sources you used for your project