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Wartburg College - 100 Wartburg Blvd. - Waverly, IA 50677

IS 101: Introductory Research Tips and Review:
Evaluation

Text-and-image research tips for introduction AND review.

So you found a source you needed--great! But is it credible?

Use the PATS evaluation technique (on the right) to evaluate every source you find--no matter what it is. Websites, journal articles, newspaper articles, and even professors should all be evaluated fully so that you understand where your information is from.


Use the chart on the lower right for tips on where to look for the credibility information in sources.

WHAT is it - WHY should you believe it - WHY is it right for you now

PATS: Acronym for Evaluation indicators
Purpose Is the intent to INFORM or PERSUADE?
Authority Scholar? Journalist? Experienced in the topic? Whatever it is, what does it mean in the context of history? Of a country? Of a time period?
Timeliness Depends on your topic whether currency is important
Scope Too complex? Too simple? Or just right? Too broad? Too specific? Too in-depth? Or just right?

Where to Find the Credibility Information for Sources

 Journals/Magazines/Newspapers

  • Database = on article page or link to a bio or description
  • Website = search with quotes like "New York Times" and look for  "About" or "Publishing Standards" or "Qualifications"
  • Wikipedia page = beware of any suspiciously positive or negative information

 

  Books

  • Book Itself = Front/back flap or pages
  • Website = of Author or Publisher
  • Wikipedia = beware suspicious negative or positive spin

 

  Websites

  • "About" page = OR "Credentials," "Who We Are, "Mission, "Purpose"
  • Impossible to find = what are they hiding? Why? Why would you use it, then?
  • Click as many times into the information as you need to truly understand who is responsible for the information--sometimes it may be 5 consecutive clicks in or more

 

  Authors

  • Web search = quotes around full name, e.g. "Junot Diaz." Interviews can work. Add inurl:edu if scholarly.
  • Impossible to find = Are they dead? Are they hiding?