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English 102 Composition II / Research: Is My Source Credible?

This Research Guide will assist students needing to explore topics before writing a research paper.

What makes an article credible?

A credible source can be identified by the following characteristics:

  • Is the source in-depth? 
    • Is it more than a page or two? Does it have an abstract, a reference list, documented research or data?
  • Who is the audience?  
    • Academic for an audience of college students, professors, and professionals or is it popular for a general audience?
  • What is the purpose of the source ?   
    • To provide information, original research, entertainment, to give or sway opinion, to provide news or specific information for trade or industry? 
  • Who are the authors? 
    • Are they respected and well-known in the field?  Are they easily identifiable?  Have they written about other similar topics?  What are their credentials? Would they be considered "experts" on the topic?
  • Is the source reputable? 
    • Is it from a library database, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal, a reputable non-biased web site? Not a blog (personal narrative) or a wiki (editable).
  • Is the source current for your topic?
    • Does it fulfill at least some of your criteria or provide some relevant information that you need?
  • Is there supporting documentation? 
    • Are there links or credit given to outside or referenced resources (these include graphs, charts, illustrations, statistics, references, or other supporting documentation)?

Web Domains in Scholarly Research

Where does your source come from?

  • university (.edu)   University/college web sites are usually reliable. (Check the college/ university).  They are a source of many university journals which are not included in general databases.  Do not use student papers. 
  • special interest (.org)   Professional organizations end in .org.  But, some .orgs promote a specific agenda.  Look at the website authors in "About us" and check their authority
  • government or military (.gov or .mil)   In general they are the most reliable sources. 
  • company website (.com)  Good for information about a particular company. Be aware that company websites are used to promote, so be sure the information is non-biased

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