29 Check for Purpose and Accuracy

Making some judgment as to the purpose of your source will also help you determine whether the information it contains is accurate. Asking why something has been published, what overall purpose its author had in creating and sharing it, is part of the critical assessment you will need to do in order to decide whether you should use it for your research.

For peer reviewed journal articles, books published by scholarly or professional publishers, government reports, and stories from mainstream news outlets, you can be fairly confident that the purpose behind such publications is to provide unbiased information or to contribute to knowledge about a certain topic. A large part of a formal review process includes careful fact-checking by the reviewers.

But evaluating sources from your Google search requires close scrutiny. Ask why a website exists. Are the authors or creators likely to be using unbiased information? Might they be motivated to spread inaccuracies or misinformation? What evidence do they use to support their claims?

ACTIVITY: Watch, Think, and Learn

Take a few minutes to watch this short video from KPU Library on how to evaluate sources. Think about the techniques used to determine the underlying purpose and potential bias of a website.





Video: “Evaluating Sources” by KPU Library is licensed under CC0.



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Doing Research Copyright © 2020 by Celia Brinkerhoff is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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