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U100: Evaluating Information Sources for Annotated Bibliography

Books Journal Articles WebSites

Evaluating Books

To evaluate books start by looking through the table of contents and reading the introduction. Ask yourself the follow questions:

Authority

  • Is there background information about the author?
  • Is the author(s) an expert in the field?
Scope
  • Why was the book/chapter written? To inform, persuade, entertain or present research?
  • Is there more than one point of view?
  • Is the timeframe relevant
Publisher
  • Who published the book? Is it a University Press?
  • When was it published? Is it still current?

Evaluating Scholarly Journal Articles

There are differences between popular magazines and scholarly journal articles. With scholarly articles, a peer-review board of experts evaluate the content for accuracy, originality, currency, and authority.

You should still ask yourself these questions to help you with interpreting content of the articles.

Questions to keep in mind:

  • What theories were used?
  • Are there good references?
  • What biases does the author have or how was the author's point of view influenced?
  • Did the author make any assumptions?
  • Did the author do a good job of supporting his/her argument?

Evaluating Websites

The responsibility of evaluating a website falls on you, so be sure to ask yourself these questions.

  • Accuracy: It is important to find the source of the information provided. Can you independently verify the facts or content? Are there references or sources listed?
  • Authority: Who wrote or created the content? What qualifications do they have? Can you verify it? Is there contact information?
  • Currency: When was the website created? Last updated? Is the content current?
  • Point of View: Does that content represent a single point of view? Whose perspective is given? Any opposing information presented? Is there advertising or are they selling something?
  • Reliability: Is the website stable? Studies have shown that the half-life of a Web page is less than two years. So 50% of the websites you cite your Freshman year at CSULB will be gone from the Internet by the time you are a Junior! That's why its a good idea to print the first page of a website you are going to use for a class assignment because you never know when it will disappear.