Estimate Time: 15 minutes
There are different sources you can use for your assignments. It is up to you as the researcher to evaluate your sources to determine their accuracy and credibility.
When choosing sources, we look at the authority of the authors:
Is this their subject expertise?
Do they hold an official title or professional designation? (e.g. professor, reporter, community elder, etc.)
Do they have special experience with this topic? (e.g. eye witness, first hand historical participant, etc.)
Above all, as a researcher, you have to evaluate each source you find for its credibility, trustworthiness and qualifications.
Tip: Find a source that disagrees with your argument. Incorporating “dissenting” sources into your paper and debating their merit with your other supporting sources is exactly what scholarship is about. Scholarly writing is a conversation and a debate between your ideas and your sources.
Another thing to keep in mind is the timeline of how information is produced after an event.
In university, one of the authoritative sources you are asked to use is scholarly journal articles. You will also hear the term “peer reviewed” articles.
Here are some definitions:
Scholarly Journal Articles:
written by experts (majority have advanced degrees)
contain original research
cite other sources extensively throughout their work and contain works cited section
use academic or complex language, and may include disciplinary or theoretical lingo
published by a scholarly press that practices editorial review to ensure that content and context adhere to the expected research parameters
intended for an audience composed of researchers, scholars, academics, and other informed or specialized readership
Peer reviewed articles are scholarly articles that have undergone a review process by other experts in the field before being published (hence - reviewed by their peers).
Peer Reviewed Explained in 3 Minutes:
From North Carolina State University Library (Closed Captioned)
Non-scholarly sources can contain a wealth of well-researched information for your topic, but their intended audience and their review process is different than scholarly sources.
Here are some definitions:
include magazines, trade journals, newspapers, books, websites, Youtube etc.,.
written or produced for a general audience and are informal in tone and scope
rarely cite other sources
Magazines, newspapers and books have an editor review the work but are not peer reviewed
tend to be short (200-500 words)
Yes, but make sure you follow your assignment guidelines. Some assignments will ask you to use a specific number of peer reviewed articles plus sources of your own choice. Just remember to evaluate your sources to ensure they are appropriate.
For your assignments, you should consult and cite a mix of sources such as books and journal articles. You can start by looking at the requirements of the assignment to see if you need a certain number sources or a specific type of source.
Choosing appropriate sources is important. You will have to critically evaluate all your sources. One way to evaluate sources is through the CRAAP test.
Evaluating your Sources
From the University of Western Ontario Libraries (Closed Captioned)