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POLI 170: Political Theory

The secret history of political theory

Evaluating Sources

The ACT UP Method

As you select your sources, consider: 

A - author. Who wrote the resource? Who are they? Background information matters. Can you Google the author? Find a LinkedIn page? Anything else they wrote?

C - currency. When was this resource written? When was it published? Does this resource fit into the currency of your topic?

T - truth. How accurate is this information? Does the language of the source contain words to evoke an emotional response? Can you verify any of the claims in other sources? Are there typos and spelling mistakes?

U - unbiased. Is the information presented to sway the audience to a particular point of view? Resources unless otherwise stated should be impartial. Bias is not always a bad thing as long as the source is explicit about their bias and agenda.

P - privilege. Check the privilege of the author(s). Are they the only folks who might write or publish on this topic? Who is missing in this conversation? Critically evaluate the subject terms associated with each resource you found. How are they described? What are the inherent biases? What are the inherent biases of the publishing industry and library classification systems.

From Dawn Stahura, “ACT UP: Evaluating Sources” 

Key Questions for Strategic Reading

Not all articles will use these exact subheadings, however these questions can still be used to focus your reading.

Article Section Key Questions
  • What is the objective of the study?
  • What results from the study are presented in the abstract?
  • What issues does the author seem to be concerned about?
  • What is the gap in previous research that the authors are addressing with this study?
  • How does the author test their hypothesis?
  • What data was collected? How is it used?
  • What were the major findings of the article?
  • Are the main findings expected?
  • Does the article meet its objectives?
  • Does the author address the problems or limitations of their research methods?
  • What does the author suggest as future research?


How to Use a Source

The BEAM model provides a framework for identifying how you might use a source in your own research.