How do you know what sources to use for an assignment? What is a good source? Is there such a thing as a bad source? Can't I just use Wikipedia or Google? These are all valid questions and highlight some of the struggles students face when attempting to find and use sources for an assignment.
Finding good sources is an important skill to learn and one that you will develop as you work through your studies at Sheridan. Learning how to evaluate sources will not only help you pick the right sources for your assignment it is also a skill that you will find useful in your work and daily life.
Choose sites that BEST match your assignment requirements, not just the first ones that appear on Google. Whether you need research studies or opinion pieces, your assignment requirements and research topic will guide your selection of sources. Consider the following:
Generally, avoid public wikis, like Wikipedia, since anyone can change the content without verification.
The author of a website may be a person, company, organization, or government agency. Their credentials, expertise, and reputation provide clues for determining the credibility of the content. Consider the following:
Generally, avoid strongly biased authors that may present misinformation or omit key details.
Information on the web is usually written and published for a purpose. Think critically about why the author is sharing information online. Consider the following:
Generally, avoid quick answer sites, like Ask.com, as responses are often simplistic and authors are difficult to ascertain.
Authors often build upon existing research or evidence, so linking or citing is important to pay attention to. Consider the following:
Currency provides insight on how recent the information was published or written. The importance of currency varies depending on assignment guidelines and academic disciplines. A website's design may provide hints whether the content is kept up-to-date. Consider the following: