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Literature Reviews and Annotated Bibliographies

Tips to Evaluate Sources

Criteria to evaluate sources:

  • Authority: Who is the author? what is his/her credentials--what university he/she is affliliated? Is his/her area of expertise?
  • Usefulness: How this source related to your topic? How current or relevant it is to your topic?
  • Reliability: Does the information comes from a reliable, trusted source such as an academic journal?


Useful sites

  • Critically Analyzing Information Sources (Cornell University Library)
  • Use the C.R.A.P. test to evaluate information

    Source: geoedtrek

    Currency:  When was it written?

    Reliability: Where did the information come from?
    What are the sources?
    Are there working links?
    Are the references / sources reliable?

    Authority: Who is the author?
    Is there contact information?
    Name? Organization?

    Purpose:  Why was it published?

    Primary or Secondary?

    Does this source provide you with the quality information?

Reading Critically

Reading critically (summary from How to Read Academic Texts Critically)

  • Who is the author? His/her standing in the field.
  • What is the author’s purpose? Offer advice, make practical suggestions, solve a specific problem, to critique or clarify?
  • Note the experts in the field: are there specific names/labs that are frequently cited?
  • Pay attention to methodology: is it sound? what testing procedures, subjects, materials were used?
  • Note conflicting theories, methodologies and results. Are there any assumptions being made by most/some researchers?
  • Theories: have they evolved overtime?
  • Evaluate and synthesize the findings and conclusions. How does this study contribute to your project?

Across the articles that you read, what are the:

  • Common/contested findings
  • Important trends
  • Influential theories.

Evaluating Primary Sources on the Internet

Evaluating Primary Source Sites on the Internet

                    Using Primary Sources on the Web ( from ALA/RUSA)

          Evaluating Primary Sources ( From American Memory) 

          How To Read a Primary Source ( from the University of Iowa)  

 Guidelines for Evaluating Historical Websites

Who: Who is the author or sponsor of the website? Is that person or organization named? Is any supporting documentation available?

What: What is the mission or purpose of the website? Is it clearly articulated? What kinds of materials are on the website? Are they properly cited and acknowledged? What is the document format on the web?

Where: Where is the site located? Is there a physical address with phone number and email address for a contact person? Does the site have a .edu, .org, or .com address?

Why: Why does the site exist? Does it have a point of view or opinion? Is it pedagogical or polemic? Does it want something from you?

Useful Links

Useful sites


  • How to read a Paper (University of Waterloo, Canada): This is an excellent paper that teach you how to read an academic paper, how to determine if it is something to set aside, or something to read deeply. Good advice to organize your literature for the Literature Review or just reading for classes.

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