The University Libraries has prepared a video to help you understand the questions to ask when evaluating resources.
Items above the line are acceptable resources unless otherwise specified within the assignment.
Resources can be classified into different types. Shown below is a list of some of the types that you might come across in print or on the Web:
Books from University and Other Known Publishers
Trade journals (Online or in Print)
Online Only Newspapers
Vanity Press Books
These resources mentioned above are loosely organized by reliability. The publications at the top of the list are generally considered more reliable. However, reliability varies by field and by author. And no matter how reliable a specific source is, generally it is wise to have at least 3 resources for any important topic as that will allow a comparison of facts, methods, and/or opinions.
It is important to evaluate the sources that you use. The more credible your sources, the more credible your argument.
Before you use a source as part of your research, here are some questions to consider:
Current: The timeliness of the information.
Relevant: The importance of the information for your needs.
Authority: The source of the information.
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information.
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
Would this site be a useful source for a research paper?
Does it present balanced information, or, if not, does it credibly represent a point of view?
Primary – In the sciences, primary sources are articles written by the person who did the research/experiment and may include synthesis of previous research by others. Usually primary sources contain sections on experimental methodology and data.
Secondary – In the sciences, secondary resources talk about the research rather than reporting the results.
Peer Review – A formal process of evaluating and revising articles before they are published. Also called “refereed”.
Review Article – The author pulls together the relevant research literature on a topic usually for a specified time period. The author summarized and evaluates the research while providing citations to the primary literature.
Research Article – The author’s purpose is to report on research done. Generally a complete research article will include experimental data, procedures or protocols used to generate the data, as well as a discussion of the data. Most will reference other literature.
Technical Report – A formal document prepared by the engineer to communicate the status of a project. Style and elements vary depending on sponsoring organization but will normally contain a detailed description of a design, test, and/or results and conclusions. Early reports may be referred to as progress reports.