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Evaluate Your Sources (Wayne College)


In general, for all formats:

  • For what purpose was the information written or provided?

    • Inform, explain, or teach?

    • Report research findings?

    • Persuade or present opinions?

    • Entertain?

    • Advertise or sell you something?

    • Deceive? (Humor, satire, fake news)

  • Who is the audience for the information provided?

    • Is it intended for a scholarly or popular audience?

    • Is it clearly produced with a specific demographic in mind?

  • Is the information biased or presented in a balanced way? (Remember that bias is evidence of unreasoned judgment.)

For books:

  • Look at the cover, illustrations, and any special features to determine audience.

  • Does a review of the book reveal any potential bias?

For periodical articles:

  • Locate the website for the publication.

  • Look the publication up in the Serials Directory.

  • Who is the audience for the periodical? (age, level of education, specific profession, political affiliation, religion, special interests?)

  • Are there any illustrations or advertisements? What do they reveal about the publication?

  • Is the article a feature or part of a regular column? (For example, does the article appear as part of the "Comment" or "Opinion" column?)

For websites:

  • Look at the domain: is it commercial, educational, or a non-profit organization?

  • Look at the graphics & illustrations (attractive to children?) and advertisements. What do they reveal about the publication?

  • If you can interpret HTML code: look at the source code for the site to look at author-supplied keywords (Ctrl+U)