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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. Source Type
    • What type of source is this (e.g., article from a journal, magazine, newspaper, website)?
  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. Author/sponsorship
    • 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?
  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. Relevancy
    • 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?

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