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Research 101

Evaluating Sources

Media Bias Workshop Handout by Ame Maloney for Skyline College Library is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Primary and Secondary Sources


What is Peer Review?

Peer Review Process: A simplified explanation. 1. Researchers/scholars conduct research and write a manuscript. 2. Researcher submits manuscript to academic journal for publication. 3. Academic journal requests other scholars/experts in this field to review it. 4.Reviewers suggest improvements to the manuscript (this step is often repeated). 5. After revisions are made and reviewed again, article is published in the scholarly journal.

Fact-checking Resources

Tips for Using Web Sources

Using resources from the open Internet may be acceptable in some cases, but there a few important things to consider:

Types of sources you may find on the internet:

  • General information (Wikipedia)
  • Government sources (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congress website)
  • News coverage (New York Times, Chicago Tribune)
  • Specialized information (Non-Profit, lobbying, or professional organizations websites)

While these sources are not considered scholarly, since they are intended for a general audience, they may still be credible and provide some information you can use to support your research. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Who is the intended audience of this information? Is it created  for a general audience, or a specific group such as scholars or professionals?
  • What authority does the author/publisher have on this subject? Or what sources of authority are they citing or quoting?
  • What is the purpose of this information? What intention did the author or publisher have when publishing it?
  • When was it published? Finding dates on static internet pages such as government or non-profits can sometimes be challenging, but credible news sources always have a date.
  • How are you going to use the information you've found? Is this background information or quality, cite-able information?
  • Is there a better (scholarly) source for this information? The answer could be no if it is a very recent event, unlikely to be covered in scholarly books or articles yet.