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Doing Research

Evaluate sources through close, critical examination

  • Evaluating sources with the 5 W's--Here's an easy-to-remember method for judging sources, adapted from the disciplines of rhetoric and journalism:
    • Who wrote it? A individual or multiple persons? A corporate author?
    • What is it? A book chapter, a book, a print periodical article, a full text article obtained via an online database, a government document, proceedings from a conference, a Web page?
    • Where was it published? Name and location of publishing company, name and domain (.edu., .org or .gov) of a Web site or page.
    • When was it published or updated?
    • Why was this resource created? To entertain, inform, persuade? What is its thesis, its point of view, its hypothesis?
    • How is the item available? In print or electronic form?

  • Don’t hesitate to ask your professor or talk to a librarian about what you’ve found. We can’t make decisions about your topic for you, but we can use our experience to help you think through the process.
  • Is this source scholarly or popular?