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University of Texas University of Texas Libraries

UGS 302 The Art of Science Communication (Osier)

Evaluating Non-Library Sources

Why This Matters

Most of your assignments at UT will require the use of scholarly articles. However, sometimes your professors will allow the use of credible, non-scholarly (or substantive) sources. These include:

  • Newspapers/magazines
  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • Documentaries

Many of these sources can be found using the library website; however they can also be found using a search engine like Google. That means that it is particularly important that you know how to evaluate these types of resources for credibility and relevance to your topic.

Evaluating online sources for credibility comes down to two things:

  • Who wrote it? Are they an expert in the subject?
  • Where did the author/creator get their information?

Please note that sometimes the author/creator won't give you all the information you need to assess the source for credibility. When that happens, you will need to do lateral reading to determine whether or not the source is valuable to you.

Knowing How to Evaluate Sources Makes You a Better. . .

A strong researcher can:

  • Determine whether or not a source will help them answer their research question
  • Interpret how evidence obtained from a source fits with other pieces of evidence
  • Evaluate the level of expertise of a creator, whether determined by education, profession, or relevant personal experience
  • Recognize that all source creators have a background that influences how they interpret a subject matter

A knowledgeable consumer can use source evaluation skills to:

  • Sift through persuasion techniques to see the facts at hand
  • Recognize that someone or some organization has one primary goal: to influence consumers to buy their product

 

A knowledgeable citizen can use their source evaluation skills to:

  • Sift through persuasion techniques to see the facts at hand
  • Recognize that all source creators have a background that influences how they interpret a subject matter
  • Determine the difference between a person's background and deliberate bias
  • Refuse to let misinformation influence how they vote

How To Spot Fake News

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