Analyzing Sources Assignment
Take some notes about the sources you gathered for the initial research into this project – what aspects of your sources were difficult to summarize at length, or were there sources that did not directly relate to where you anticipate going with your essay? Identify the sources that might not fit your needs any longer.
Now evaluate your sources for the following:
Authority and Credibility
Who is the author of each source – is it an individual or organization? Who is the publisher? Is it a recognizable source?
Is it a university press or an academic journal – or another source considered highly credible?
Does the source include a bibliography – what sources did your source draw on? Does it include a wide variety of citations from other credible sources?
Does the author make a reasonable argument with a balance of views included?
Is there any indication the author(s) has/have relevant expertise?
Is there depth to the information? Did it take you time to summarize?
Does the source provide any links to similar sources and does it provide a date of last update for its pages or other information?
Audience and Purpose
What is the tone of the source, the appearance of the source (if online or visual), and its intention?
Does it try to appeal to an audience in a way that indicates its purpose is to sell, persuade, or influence? In other words, is it too commercially focused to be unbiased?
Does it simply present information in an unbiased way? How can you tell?
Is it advocating for a cause or to raise funds?
Who is it aimed at – can you tell?
Sites and other sources with well-documented evidence and focused on scholarship or presenting facts in balanced ways will be most useful.
Objectivity and Bias
Most sources provide a point of view or a bias that is implicit or explicit, but a strong source gives a balance – a range of views about the topic or issue — even if a hint of bias is evident.
Biased sources should not be used in an academic essay, or should be used with disclosure and analysis of the bias. Most scholarly sources will discuss any possible bias it might convey, but popular sources can run the gamut of balanced to extremely biased. Even if you counter that biased source with other, unbiased sources, you can’t trust the facts presented in the biased source because it wasn’t written or researched objectively if it is biased. You can recognize a source that can’t be trusted, either because of bias or imbalance or just sloppiness — it might do one or more of the following:
Make broad, sweeping claims that aren’t supported
Use a tone that is unreasonable, excessive, or “over the top” in what it claims
Exaggerate its significance or value to the topic
Include no opposing views, providing only its one view as the view
Attack opposing views rather than considering them, and offering counter argument not based on evidence — in other words, attacking what it doesn’t agree with but not substantiating what it claims is wrong.
Your sources should be relevant not just to the general topic, but to your essay’s purpose.
How does it specifically address what you think you want to focus on in your essay, or your main ideas thus far?
How recent are your sources? Are they out of date for the topic? Do you need something more updated?
Do your sources relate to your topic or ideas, or is it a stretch to make them fit to support your ideas? If so, you might need to find sources that are more relevant.
If the source is a web site, when was the site last updated?
Are other sources you find demonstrating a similar relevance?
1. Write a brief evaluation for each of your sources so far (you should have 3 or more), using the prompts above.
2. Consider your sources overall and analyze:
Which sources will you keep to work with?
What other sources do you think you need?
What are the ideas you want to write about that need additional sources to support them?
Which of your sources is lacking in credibility or relevance or accuracy, and therefore might need to be discarded?
What is your plan for continuing to look for sources that will support points in your essay?
Your response for this assignment should total between 350 words