Assessing Sources

    To stress the quality of sources and research, the papers must include in the bibliography an assessment of the authoritative value of every source. This assessment should appear in curly brackets, "{}", at the end of each bibliographic reference. The assessment should characterize the source according to the following criteria for every reference.  (Note: for guidance on making these judgments, please see the sources listed on the Evaluating Information page.)

  • What is the level of authority and impartiality:
    1. scholarly primary source (as in academic journals),
    2. scholarly secondary source (as in quality college textbooks, review articles),
    3. distinguished news (as in New York Times, Economist),
    4. popular news (as in Time Magazine, People, Daily News,), or
    5. unrestricted (any writing not subject to editorial review or any controls meant to enforce impartiality and accuracy, including sensationalist or inflammatory texts).
  • What was the publication route:
    1. print,
    2. print via the internet in its original complete form (e.g. articles available through ProQuest or print newspapers available on line),
    3. print modified and edited into web pages (as in excerpts from a book presented on a web page), or
    4. internet publication only
  • If the source is used for evidence, such as research results or opinion polls, you also need to characterize the authenticity and reputableness of the evidence.
    1. authoritative: impartial, scientific, consensus (multiple sources)
    2. reputable: professional but not necessarily impartial, nor multiple sources
    3. apparently credible: seemingly accurate, but lacking credentials and support needed to eliminate doubt, no strong contrary evidence known
    4. plausible: of interest, as it affects the argument, but authenticity unknown
    5. undependable: speculation, questionable claims of advocates, and the like
  • Examples
    • {secondary scholarly; print via internet; reputable}
    • {popular news; quoted on web pages; apparently credible}
    • {primary scholarly; print} (not used for evidence)

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