Skip to main content

American Social History since 1865: Evaluating for Credibility

This LibGuide provides access to primary and secondary sources for research in American social history since 1865.

Let's look at a source together!

RADAR

Relevance:    

Your resource should be relevant. It should fill in a knowledge gap or support your argument. You should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How well does the article answer your research question or fill a gap in your knowledge?
  2. Does the source give you the information you need or does it go off topic? 
  3. Does the article address the requirements of your assignment? 

Authority:

Authority is important in judging the credibility of the information. Ask yourself:

  1. Can you identify the author(s)? What are their credentials? How many authors are there?
  2. Are the author(s) affiliated with an educational institution?
  3. Is the publisher of the source credible or have a good reputation?
  4. Is there a way for the article to be "vandalized" or otherwise altered by a user?

Date:               

The date an article is published is important because information (especially in the sciences) can become obsolete quickly.

  1. When was this published? Will this affect the quality or relevance of the information?
  2. How often is the resource updated? Does this matter for your particular subject?

Accuracy:      

It is important to provide accurate facts in your paper. Ask yourself:

  1. Are there any statements in the article you know to be false?
  2. Does the article have any citations? Do they appear credible?
  3. Are there any graphs or figures of data given to support the article, if relevant?
  4. Is the article peer reviewed?

Reason for Writing:      

Why was this information source written? Articles can be written for the general public, for serious researchers, for students writing research papers, or many other kinds of audiences. You should consider the following:

  1. Why do you think someone wrote this article? What is their purpose?
  2. Who is the audience for this article? (Students? Professionals? Scholars?)
  3. Is this a controversial sociopolitical issue where an author might be taking a side? If so, does that matter?
  4. Is this article balanced or does it favor one viewpoint over another? 

 

 

Adapted from: Masunaga, Jennifer. "Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2015. https://www.projectcora.org/assignment/wikipedia-vs-encyclopedia.