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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

ESL 522/525 Graduate Student Guide

A guide to the University Library and its resources for students enrolled in ESL 522: Introduction to Business Writing and ESL 525: Elements of Business Writing.

Source Evaluation

There are a number of criteria to consider when evaluating whether or not a source is reliable and appropriate to use as evidence. Answering the following questions can help you determine whether or not a source is reliable.

1. Origin

  • Where did you find the source (e.g., Google search, Business Source Ultimate, ABI/INFORM, etc.)

2. Currency

  • Does your topic require current information?
  • When was the source published? Is it current for your topic?
  • If it is a website, when was it last updated?
  • If your source cites any other sources, are they recent as well?

3. Purpose

  • How do you plan to use this source?
    • Examples...
    • To support a particular point you are making?
    • To explain why your solution is the best option?
    • To explain how your solution works?

4. Bias

  • Is the information primarily fact or opinion?
  • Does the author present multiple sides (pros & cons) of the issue?
  • Is the information supported by research? (Are there citations?)
  • Has the author provided sufficient evidence?
  • Based on your response to the above questions, do you think your source is highly biased or minimally biased?

5. Authorship/Publisher

  • What are the author's credentials or background in this area?
  • Has the author written other things on the same topic?
  • Does the author OR publisher have financial interest in the topic?
  • Does the author's background/publisher information make the source more or less credible?

Based on your answers to the questions above, do you think this source is reliable?