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COMM 101 [Arbor] - Oral Presentation & Annotated Bibliography: Evaluate Sources

A guide to help students in COMM 101 prepare for their presentation.

Definitions

CREDIBILITY 
Trustworthy, reliable.

Credible sources are generally understood to be accurate and reliable sources of information, free from unfair bias.  See the evaluation criteria below for help with determining credibility.


BIAS
Inclination, leaning, prejudice, predisposition

A biased source is one in which the creator has a view of the issue at hand that had an effect on how they created the source. From the synonyms above, you can see that this can be to a small or large degree. Everyone has biases, and someone with a bias can still write a worthwhile source, but it is up to you to consider how much of a bias is present. Be aware of the biases inherent when an organization has a legislative agenda or is trying to sell something. 

Evaluation Criteria

Use the criteria below to help you evaluate a source.  As you do, remember:

  • Each criterion should be considered in the context of your topic or information need. For example, currency changes if you are working on a current event vs. a historical topic.
  • Weigh all five criteria when making your decision. For example, the information may appear accurate, but if the authority is suspect you may want to find a more authoritative site for your information.
  • When in doubt about a source, talk about it with your professor or a librarian.

CRITERIA

  1. Currency: When was the information published or last updated? Is it current enough for your topic?
  2. Relevance: Is this the type of information you need (ex. a research study or scholarly article)? Is it related to your topic? Is it detailed enough to help you answer questions on your topic?
  3. Authority: Who is the author or creator of the information (can be an individual or an organization)? Are they an expert on your topic? Has the source been peer reviewed? Who is the publisher? Are they reputable?
  4. Accuracy: Is the information true? What information does the author cite or refer to?  Is this a research study with methods you can follow? Can you find this information anywhere else? Can you find evidence to back it up from another resource? Are studies mentioned but not cited (this would be something to check on)? Can you locate those studies?
  5. Purpose/perspective: What is the purpose of the information? Was it written to sell something or to convince you of something? Is this fact or opinion based? Is it unfairly biased?

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