OK, so now you have a few resources that you might use for your assignment. It's time to take a close look at your information to make sure it is credible, reliable and useful. Ask yourself the following questions for each resource that you have found.
Is it relevant to your topic?
Is the date of publication appropriate?
Is the author qualified? What are the writers' educational backgrounds and experiences?
What is the author's purpose? To inform? To persuade? To sell? To advocate?
How was the information obtained?
Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda? Facts can usually be verified. Opinions may or may not evolve from facts.
Are there references and/or footnotes?
Is the work primary or secondary in nature?
Who is the publisher or the institution responsible for the work?
Is the work popular or scholarly?
Scholarly vs. Popular
A scholarly article*:
Often undergoes a peer-review process prior to publication
Provides footnotes or a Works Cited list (also called a Bibliography or Reference list)
Has an author who is usually affiliated with an academic or research institution
Is written by scholars for scholars in the field
Reports on original research
Uses the specialized language of the discipline
Is often published by an academic, research or professional institution or association
Has few, if any, coloured illustrations or ads
Often contains graphs or charts
A popular (non-scholarly) article:
Rarely provides footnotes or a Works Cited list
Is written for the general public to entertain or provide basic information
Reports on information second or third-hand
Is usually short and uses simple language
Is written by a staff writer, columnist or journalist, rarely by a scholar
Does not state the qualifications of the author
Is usually published by commercial enterprises
Includes pictures, photographs and ads, and is slick in appearance
Is not peer-reviewed
* A peer-reviewed article is always scholarly but a scholarly article does not always go through a peer-review process.