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Last Updated: Oct 27, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Selecting and evaluating sources Print Page

Michael Scott on Wikipedia


What am I holding? Scholarly, popular, trade, and more


David Warlick's Goals-Based Approach


Evaluation During Reading (Purdue OWL)


Gwyneth Jones on Wikipedia


NYT: Evaluating Wikipedia Articles


Domain Clues



The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.

True Reach is the size of your engaged audience and is based on those of your followers and friends who actively listen and react to your messages. Amplification Score is the likelihood that your messages will generate actions (retweets, @messages, likes and comments) and is on a scale of 1 to 100. Network score indicates how influential your engaged audience is and is also on a scale from 1 to 100. The Klout score is highly correlated to clicks, comments and retweets.


Scholarly vs. Popular


NoodleTools ShowMe Modules


Importance of Investigating the Author

Produced by UTSA Libraries


Annotating your sources

Annotated Works Cited

Annotated works cited sections require critical research and evaluation skills.

Annotations frequently include brief, two-sentence summaries. The following guidelines apply to materials in all formats--books, magazine articles, Web sites, and reference materials, etc.

Check with your teacher to see which of the following elements you should include in your annotations:

  • Author's credentials
  • Intended audience
  • Scope and purpose of the work: Is it an overview, persuasive, editorial?
  • Comparison of the work with others dealing with the same topic or others in your Works Cited list
  • Summary of contents
  • Evaluation of research: Is the work logical, clear, well-researched?
  • Evaluation of author bias
  • Relative value of the work to the thesis or question

Example of an evaluative annotation:

Katz, Jon. "The Rights of Kids in the Digital Age." Wired July 1996: 120+. Print.

Katz, contributing editor of Wired and the author of Geeks, presents a compelling argument for safeguarding the rights of children online. The article is aimed at a general, but computer-savvy, audience. Katz offers a far more liberal perspective than recent pieces in such major news journals as Newsweek, which warned the public of the dangers children face in electronic environments. Katz advocates the idea of preparing the "responsible child" and outlines the rights of such a child. He claims that our new "digital nation" requires a social contract similar to the one proposed by philosopher John Locke and adopted by the founders of our own country to protect the rights of all citizens. This comprehensive, distinctive, liberal view added needed balance to my project.

Senior Seminar annotation requirements

Alternate questions for annotations:

  • How (How did you find this information? Which database or search tool did you use?)
  • Who (Who is the author and why should you trust him/her?)
  • Why (Why is this particular document truly relevant to your thesis/question/research?)

Glean Whois

Authority. Authenticity. Ownership. Perspective. These four pillars make up the critical facets of the information we consume -- and understanding them makes us and our students wiser users of information.

However, on the web, people often make assumptions about the authority and authenticity of information, and it can be challenging to understand ownership and perspective. The Glean Who-Is Tool help you and your students learn to investigate web-based content sources. By using technical information about websites (“whois”), along with historical and factual information, the tool encourages us to dig more deeply, to understand more thoroughly, and to critique more closely.



Use CARRDSS to evaluate your sources

C REDIBILITY : Who is the author? What are his or her credentials?
A CCURACY: Can facts, statistics, or other information be verified through other sources? Based on your knowledge, does the information seem accurate?
R ELIABILITY: Does the source present a particular view or bias?
R ELEVANCE: Does this information directly support my
hypothesis/thesis or help to answer my question?
D ATE: When was this information created? When was it revised? Are these dates meaningful in terms of the subject matter?
S OURCES BEHIND THE TEXT: Did the author use reliable, credible sources?
S COPE: Does this source address my hypothesis/thesis/question in a comprehensive or peripheral way? Is it a scholarly or
popular treatment?

How to recognize scholarly articles (Cornell U.)


Lit Crit Annotation (Ward)

Questions to Address when Annotating Literary Criticism  

1. Who is the author of the essay?  What are his/her credentials? 

2. In what source was this essay originally published?

3. Which literary element(s) is/are analyzed in this article?  (Character, structure, narrative/voice, plot, setting/mood, etc.)

4. In your own words, explain the main idea of this article.

5. Can you identify one or two sentences that summarize the author's thesis? 

6. To which evidence in the primary text (the novel, play, story, etc.) does the author refer?

7. Is the work relevant to your potential thesis? How?  What evidence does it provide and how will you use it to support your thesis?

8. Discuss what you found to be the most interesting point in this article.  Do you agree or disagree with the author's assessment?  How does this author's view compare with other criticism you have read?

For the essay you chose to reject:

Describe why you chose not to use the essay.  You may use any of the criteria above or other relevant reasons.

Sample Annotation (Remember to use MLA style for your citations!):

Nelson, Benjamin. "On The Crucible as a Depiction of Corporate Hysteria." Arthur Miller: Portrait of Playwright.  

        New York: MacKay, 1970.  150-53. Rpt. in Arthur Miller's The Crucible.  Ed. Harold Bloom.  Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 

        1996.  41-43.

Nelson, a professor of English at Farleigh Dickinson, first published this essay in his book  Arthur Miller: Portrait of a Playwright.  Unlike many other critics, Nelson asserts that the play is neither "contemporary political allegory" nor is it "historical narrative."  Instead Miller uses the moral consciousness of the people of Salem and the fact that they were "supremely aware of the nature of their struggle" to study man and temptation, the individual's and society's constant struggle against enticement as represented by the devil.  Miller examines a theocracy whose codes were strained by "disruptive pressures" no longer binding to its younger generation.    This essay helps further my thesis exploring the theme of generational discord in the play.  Few other critics examine these concepts through the lens of mid-century business culture and of theocracies. Nelson's focus on hysteria opens up new, and interesting potential for interpretation of the play, as it easily applies to Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany, and Inquisitional Spain. 


ProQuest vs. Google


Evaluating Websites Webquest


If you are like most students, you are relying heavily on resources from the Web for your research. Not all Web resources are created equal. If fact, there are great variations in the quality of the resources you access. The rule of thumb is "when in doubt, doubt." When you carefully select your resources, when you understand their strengths and limits, you create better products.


You will be working in groups of four to evaluate a group of Web pages on the topic of tobacco and smoking, or cloning or another topic of your teacher's choice. Each of you will be examining sites from a different perspective. You will be ranking the sites and comparing your rankings with the rest of the class.


You will each be responsible for completing an evaluation chart, focusing on the perspective you assume within your group.

Your teacher will select five of the following Web sites from one of these two controversial areas for you to evaluate:

Cloning sites: Smoking and tobacco sites:
Hamlet Sites (For this one, imagine you were assigned a high school research project to develop a thesis analyzing the character of Hamlet.):
Dinosaurs (for Intermediate and Middle School Students):


  • Your group of 4 students will evaluate the selected Web sites.
  • Divide your group into the following four specialties to cover ground more efficiently.
1. Content specialist:
  • Does the site cover the topic comprehensively? Accurately?
  • Can you understand what is being said? Is it written above or below your level of understanding?
  • What is unique about this site? Does it offer something others do not?
  • Are the links well-chosen? sufficient?
  • Currency: Can you tell: the date the information was created? the publication date? the date the material was last revised? Are these dates meaningful in terms of the subject matter?
  • Would you get better information in a book? an encyclopedia?
  • Would you include this site in your bibliography?
2. Authority/Credibility specialist:
  • Who is responsible for this site? Who sponsors it? Hint: truncate each section of the URL back until you are able to find the sponsor.
  • What are his/her credentials?
  • Have the authors of the site cited their own sources? Are the sources documented appropriately?
  • What is the domain name? Does it end in .com, .gov, .edu, .org, .net? Is it a personal page?
  • Is that a meaningful clue in evaluating the site? (You can't always judge a web page by its suffix. Some commercial sites provide solid information. Some university sites offer less-than-serious personal pages to graduate students.)
  • Who else links to the site? (You can perform a link check in AltaVista or Google by entering "link:webaddress" in the search box. Is it linked to by reliable sites? What do other sites say about this one?
  • Would you include this site in your bibliography?
3. Bias/purpose specialist:
  • Why was this site created? (to persuade, inform, explain, sell, promote, parody, other?)
  • Is it a personal, commercial, government or organization site?
  • Is there any bias? Is only one side of the argument presented? Does it appear that any information is purposely omitted? Is there a hidden message? Is it trying to persuade you or change your opinion? Is the bias useful to you in some way?
  • Can you distinguish facts from opinion?
  • Would you include this site in your bibliography?
4. Usability/design specialist
  • Is the site easy to navigate (user-friendly)?
  • Is there a well-labeled contents area?
  • Do all the design elements (graphics, art, buttons, etc.) enhance the message of the site? Is there consistency in the basic formats of each page?
  • Are there any errors in spelling or grammar?
  • Do the pages appear clean, uncluttered?
  • Do the links on the site work?
  • Would you include this site in your bibliography?
  • Each student in the group should complete his/her own organizer through the perspective they are assigned.
  • As you examine each site, record any relevant information in your chart/organizer. Begin to rank the sites 1 through 5, with 1 being the best. It may be easier to think to yourself, "Which are the two best sites in the set; which are the two worst."
  • Each group should select a recorder to take notes on group discussion and a discussion leader, whose job it will be to make sure each member gets a chance to contribute and to lead the group toward reaching a consensus about the best and worst sites.
  • Be prepared to discuss/compare your group's findings and rankings with the rest of the class during the class discussion period.


You will be evaluated on your group work, your completed organizer, and your participation in large group discussion using this rubric. Make sure your group is able to defend its choices in the discussion ranking the sites.


You will find yourself using the Internet for information. The Internet is only one of a variety of information options. Remember that journals, books, videos and other sources are available as well. Evaluating information is a skill you will be using throughout your lifetime.


Considering your sources?


When Images Lie (National Writiing Project)


Young people over-reliant on the Internet

BBC News

Conspiracy theories and propaganda are entering the classroom because young people are not being taught how to judge between truth and misinformation on the internet, according to think tank Demos.

In a report shown to the BBC Asian Network, it argues that pupils are not being taught how to dissect the wealth of information online, and that could have dangerous consequences.

Jamie Bartlett, senior researcher for Demos, got the opinions of young people in London and Liverpool.

From the Demos Report: Truth, Lies, and the Internet


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