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MONT 152Q: Foundation and Crisis (Armenti)

Fall 2023

Investigate Your Sources. Before using a source, ask yourself the six questions. Who is the author? What type of source is it? When was it published? Where did you find it? Why was it written? How are sources cited?

Why Evaluate Sources?

When you're doing research, you want to make sure the information you find is accurate, relevant, and appropriate for your topic. You shouldn't just conduct one search, pick the first few articles you find, and consider yourself done. Research is a process, and knowing how to analyze and evaluate your sources will make you a stronger researcher and help you learn more as you go through your process.

This page goes over one method for evaluating sources by asking yourself the 6 Questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. At first, you might find it takes some extra time to do this process of evaluating your sources, but the more you practice it the more it'll become a natural part of your research process.

Six Questions

Six Questions for Evaluating Sources

When you're looking at a source and deciding if it's right for your research, ask yourself the six questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.


Who is the author?

Look for more information about the author. Find out their qualifications and experience to determine if they are a credible expert on the topic. Be wary of sources where you cannot identify an author or creator.


What type of source is it?

Think about what type of source you're looking at - is it a research paper? An entertainment piece? An opinion essay? Consider if it is scholarly or popular and what the format tells you about the source. 

When was it published?

Consider how recent and/or timely the information is and how recent you need information to be for your topic. In some subjects, new information develops very quickly and sources that are more than a few years old may already be outdated. In other subjects, information may move more slowly.


Where did you find the source?

Look at where the source was published or shared. See what you can find out about the publisher and their editorial process (Is it peer reviewed? Edited by one general editor? Not edited at all?). Be on the lookout for conflicts of interest and potential bias in publishing. Consider if it is a scholarly publisher, a government source, an educational institution, or an informal source like a blog.


Why was this written and published?

Think about the purpose of the source and what it is trying to accomplish. Is the source trying to inform you of new information? Is it trying to persuade you to do something or to have a certain point of view? Is it an ad trying to sell you something? Is it entertainment?


How did the author/creator find their information?                                                                                  

If the source is an original research study, look at the methods and conclusions to learn about how the study was conducted and what they learned from it. If the author cites their sources, see if you can find the original source to verify the information.

Be cautious using sources that do not contain citations or do not show how they got their information.