University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Having made an initial appraisal, you should now examine the body of the source. Read the preface to determine the author's intentions for the book. Scan the table of contents and the index to get a broad overview of the material it covers. Note whether bibliographies are included. Read the chapters that specifically address your topic. Reading the article abstract and scanning the table of contents of a journal or magazine issue is also useful. As with books, the presence and quality of a bibliography at the end of the article may reflect the care with which the authors have prepared their work.
A. Intended Audience
What type of audience is the author addressing? Is the publication aimed at a specialized or a general audience? Is this source too elementary, too technical, too advanced, or just right for your needs?
B. Objective Reasoning
D. Writing Style
Is the publication organized logically? Are the main points clearly presented? Do you find the text easy to read, or is it stilted or choppy? Is the author's argument repetitive?
Evaluating a source (a book or an article, for instance) begins with a critical look at the bibliographic citation--the written description of a book, journal article, essay, or some other published material that appears in a catalog, bibliography, or database.
Examine the publisher (name of the press or the journal publisher), date of publication, presence of an index and a bibliography, and author affiliations.
What can you deduce about the reliability of the source through this preliminary examination?
This page was adapted with permission from the following:
Critically Analyzing Information Sources
Research & Learning Services
Cornell University Library
Ithaca, NY, USA