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On this page, you should learn to:

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  1. Distinguish between different types of information
  2. Recognize scholarly information
  3. Describe criteria for evaluating source credibility

Evaluate Sources

The line between what is considered ‘scholarly’ and ‘non-scholarly’ continues to blur as it is easier to create and share information. And sometimes you need to use a combination of different information types. This means you need to carefully evaluate each source you use. Some questions you may consider in your evaluation include:

  • Who created or produced the information?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Why was the information created?
  • Can you verify the claims a source makes with other sources you find in your research?

Primary & Secondary Sources

You may also consider whether you need to consult a primary versus secondary sources information sources. Specific types of primary and secondary sources vary for different topics, but in general:

  • Primary sources...are original information, created around the time or place you're researching, or authored by the person who generated the research. Examples could include historic newspaper articles, original research papers, or datasets.
  • Secondary sources…have been interpreted or evaluated by somebody before reaching you. They may contain commentary, review, discussion, or analysis. Examples include a journalist reporting about a scientific finding or an entry in an encyclopedia.

Scholarly vs. Popular

Source Credibility

In this video from North Carolina State University Libraries, learn more about how to determine if a source is "credible" and what criteria you may use to make your evaluation.