Answering the following questions about a book, article or webpage can help you decide if the source is of sufficient quality to be used for a research project.
Question the author's identity, affiliations, expertise, possible biases & target audience. Does the author or publisher have known political, ideological, cultural, religious, or institutional biases?
Facts, opinions or both? One viewpoint or several? Emotional or objective language? Well organized & carefully proofread, or not? Any references provided?
How recently written or revised? How much does currency matter for the topic?
Applicable to one geographical area only? What's the information source (newspaper, magazine, journal, web site)? Is it reputable?
Why was this document created? Is the purpose to inform, to teach, to convince, to entertain, or to sell?
How does the information compare to other information sources on the same topic? How was the information gathered? How was it reviewed before publication?
PRINTABLE Five W's & One H
Other approaches to evaluating information sources--primarily internet sources--are available from the libraries of many major universities. Consult one of the sources below for further information.
Articles -- millions of them -- from scholarly journals, trade journals, magazines and newspapers.
Types of Sources
Summary: We live in an age overflowing with sources of information. With so many information sources at our fingertips, knowing where to start, sorting through it all and finding what we want can be overwhelming! This handout provides answers to the following research-related questions: Where do I begin? Where should I look for information? What types of sources are available?
The amount of information can be overwhelming and confusing. This section provides a list of common types of sources and what information you can discover from each.
Books & Textbooks: Books come in a multitude of topics. Because of the time it takes to publish a book, books usually contain more dated information than will be found in journals and newspapers.
Newspapers: Predominately covering the latest events and trends, newspapers contain very up-to-date information. Newspapers report both information that is factual in nature and also share opinions. Generally, however, they will not take a “big picture” approach or contain information about larger trends.
Academic and Trade Journals: Academic and trade journals are where to find the most up-to-date information and research in industry, business, and academia. Journal articles come in several forms, including literature reviews which overview about current and past research, articles on theories and history, or articles on specific processes or research.
Government Reports and Legal Documents: The government releases information intended for its own use or for public use. These types of documents can be an excellent source of information. An example of a government report is the U.S. Census data. Most government reports and legal documents can now be accessed online.
Press Releases and Advertising: Companies and special interest groups produce texts to help persuade readers to act in some way or inform the public about some new development
Flyers, Pamphlets, Leaflets: While some flyers or pamphlets are created by reputable sources, because of the ease in which they are created, many less-than-reputable sources also produce these. They are useful for quick reference or very general information.
Multimedia: Printed material is certainly not the only option for finding research. Also consider media sources such as radio and television broadcasts, interactive talks, and public meetings.
Websites: Most of the information on the Internet is distributed via websites. Websites vary widely in quality of information and validity of sources.
Weblogs / Blogs: A rather recent development in web technology, weblogs or blogs are a type of interactive journal where writers post and readers respond. They vary widely in quality of information and validity of sources. For example, many prestigious journalists and public figures may have blogs, which may be more credible of a blog than most.
Message boards, discussion lists, and chat rooms: Discussion lists, chat rooms, and message boards exist for all kinds of disciplines both in and outside of the university. However, plenty of boards exist that are rather unhelpful and poorly researched.
Multimedia: The Internet has a multitude of multimedia resources including online broadcasts and news, images, audio files, and interactive websites.
Contributors:Dana Lynn Driscoll, Karl Stolley
Last Edited: 2010-04-17 06:09:50
From Purdue OWL https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/552/03/
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Interviews with individuals connected to your research topic
are an often overlooked source.
The University of Minnesota link below offers guidelines
for locating and selecting people to interview as well as preparation tips for the informational interview itself.
Allows you to create a list of companies by industry and geography.
If you know the name of the business, type it in "Company Name" on the basic search page. If you want to generate a list of possible businesses, choose the "Custom Search" tab.
The two search criteria to use are "Business Type" and "Geography."
Use the "Keyword/SIC/NAICS" option to get the types of businesses you need; then choose the geographic limiter, depending on how far you are willing to travel to conduct your interview.