Welcome! This guide contains recommendations and strategies related to evaluating sources in the context of academic writing. It was developed with First-Year Writing Seminars in mind, but we hope that these tips and activities will be helpful to anyone who is grappling with finding and incorporating a variety of sources into their research and writing. We've included a page with suggested activities that faculty might share with their students.
Even though this guide contains separate pages on finding sources and evaluating sources, these two activities are interconnected. We recommend thinking of your work with sources as an evolving, iterative process, not as discrete tasks.
The intersection of research and writing can be seen in how writers engage with sources. Sources are "evidence": the materials on which writers base their arguments, as well as a record of conversations within and across disciplines. The sources we find can push our thinking and writing in new or unexpected directions. We also want to acknowledge the ideas that inspire us and give credit by citing sources accurately.
Rather than thinking in terms of "good" or "bad" sources, we recommend considering the appropriateness of a source. The criteria you use to determine if a source is appropriate to your project will include a variety of factors - and your criteria will likely change from one paper or course to the next. In addition to using the evaluation methods on this page, consider:
As you’re gathering and evaluating sources, remember that you’ll also need to cite them.