With so many different different types of resources that could be a potential resource for your paper or project, how do you know which ones you should use?
Ask your instructor. Check your assignment.
First, we strongly recommend asking your instructor and checking your assignment:
Once you've determined that the resources you found are the type you want or need to use, the next step is to evaluate each one's content. Below are some evaluation tools and tips to assist you in this process. Need help or have questions with evaluating your resources? Ask a librarian!
A stakeholder is someone who has an investment or interest in a given topic or issue. For instance, if the topic is healthcare, some stakeholders would be:
Knowing who the stakeholders are allows you to evaluate why the information was produced, and who it is trying to influence. (For instance is an article written by a research physician about a new drug going to have the same stakeholders as an article written by the pharmaceutical company that produces that drug?)
If you're not sure who the stakeholders may be for an issue:
Most news sources won't say whether they hold a liberal or a conservative bias, but a bias in reporting can drastically alter the way the media reports a story. These sites help determine actual facts and media bias.
Evaluating websites can be a tricky business. Whereas books and articles clearly state authors, and very often their credentials and sources, the web is an open content medium, meaning ANYone can publish ANYthing. This includes highly regarded professionals and experts, people trying to sell you something (a product, an opinion, an agenda), and people just using the web as a place to post their opinions.
It takes a careful eye to determine if content on the web is reliable enough to cite in an academic paper. Some important considerations:
Another device you can use to evaluate information is the WAILing method:
W: Word Choice
A: Adjectives, Adverbs
I: Information Provided
L: Left Out What?
Word choice shapes and helps you identify the bias of the author. Finding adjectives and adverbs the author used, fleshes out the meaning of the story. Ask yourself what information is provided and then what information is left out? Sometimes you can’t find what’s left out unless you’ve read multiple stories. This is particularly helpful when you are reading news articles but it also forms the foundation of a healthy Literature Review.