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EDHD 703: Source Selection, Multimedia & Misinformation: How Students Learn to Navigate Evidence in the 21st Century: Guides to Evaluating Sources

Course will explore how evidence is acquired, produced, and used to make inferences and draw conclusions about the world.

Authoritative Sources

Evaluating a Journal Article

Purpose of the Article:  Why was the article written?
  • To persuade
  • To inform
  • To prove something
Type of Journal
  • Scholarly Journal: high quality research reviewed by experts in the field. (Peer-review)
  • Trade Magazine: topics in business or economic data
Organization & Content
  • Is material organized and focused?
  • Is argument or presentation understandable?
  • Is this original research, a review of previous research
  • Left/Liberal?   OR Right/Conservative? Center?
  • An alternative press?  OR Political action (PAC) group?
Date of Article
  • Up‐to‐date, Out‐of‐date, Timeless
  • Identifies resources consulted appropriate for the content.  
  • Is it selective or is it comprehensive
  • Primary sources and/or secondary sources only
  • Is the citation style clear and consistent?
  • Is the article relevant to the current research project?  
  • Support an argument ‐Refute an argument
  • Includes survey results, primary research finding, case studies
  • Author(s) and/or publisher(s) credentials verifiable.  
  • Expert in this field? Where employed? Other writings?
  • Comprehensively, partially, or provide an overview?
  • Specialists. Researchers or scholars Students
  • Charts, graphs, maps, photographs used to illustrate concepts
  • Relevant, clear and professional‐looking?

Evaluating a Website

  • Is the information reliable? 
  • Is the author an expert in the field? Check credentials/affiliation.
  • Is the source reputable?
  • Are the sources of information stated and verifiable?
  • Can the author be contacted for clarification?
  • Check for organizational or author biases.
  • Is material unique, accurate or is it derivative, repetitious, or doubtful?
  • Is the information available in other formats? 
  • Is the purpose of the resource clearly stated?
  • What subjects, time period, formats or types are covered? 
  • Is the information factual or opinion? 
  • Does the site contain original information or simply links? 
  • How frequently is the resource updated? 
  • Does the site have clear and obvious pointers to new content?
Format and Presentation
  • How many links does it take to get to something useful? 
  • Do images enhance the resource or distract from the content? 
  • Is the target audience or intended users clearly indicated? 
  • Is the arrangement of links uncluttered?
  • Does the site have its own search engine? 
  • Is the site easily browsable or searchable?
  • Is response time fast? 
  • Does the site have a text-based alternative? 
  • How many links lead to a dead-end? 
  • Is this a fee-based site? Can non-members still have access to part of the site? 
  • Must you register a name and password before using the site


Evaluating a Research Report

  • Clear and concise
  • States what the study promises


  • clearly stated
  • properly defined
  • significance recognized
  • hypotheses clearly stated/specific questions raised
  • assumptions and limitations stated
  • important terms defined
  • adequately covered
  • important findings noted
  • well organized
  • effectively summarized


Procedures Used
  • detailed research design
  • adequate research design
  • relevant variables recognized
  • appropriate controls provided
  • data gathering instruments apropropiate
  • validity and reliability established
  • statistical treatment appropriate