Tips for Selecting Information Sources
The type of information sources you use will depend upon your research topic and the requirements of your research project.
Ask yourself these questions to determine the types of information sources most useful for your research:
Think about the types of information you need to find on your topic.
IF YOU NEED:
You should always use a variety of sources in your research so that you get the best, most complete and current information and can validate information across different sources.
Primary vs. Secondary Sources
Primary sources, containing firsthand knowledge, observation or information are created when an event is currently happening. Examples of primary sources include:
Secondary sources are written after an event has occurred, sometimes many years later. These sources summarize or analyze the information from primary sources. Secondary source examples include:
Descriptive vs. Analytical Sources
Questioning with the 5Ws
Often finding information is less of a problem than figuring out whether that information will be appropriate for your project. One way to decide whether a source is “good” for your project or not, is to begin by asking some questions about the source. Remember! Evaluation is a holistic process. One of these questions isn’t enough to determine a source’s usefulness. You need to take them all into consideration.
WHO created the source?
WHAT is the purpose of the source?
WHERE does the information come from?
WHEN was the source published?
WHY is this source useful to you?
Evaluating Sources - ACT UP & Push Against Privilege
We evaluate resources to locate reliable and credible sources for our research whether it is for a class assignment or for personal interest. We evaluate resources so that we don't believe everything that we come across on the web and so that we are not fooled by that information. We also evaluate resources because it is our social responsibility to make sure that the information we share with others is trustworthy. We also evaluate sources to make sure that the dominant voices in our society do not silence the minoritized voices. In order to do so, we apply the ACT UP method to our evaluation.
Use the acronym below to evaluate your sources answering as many of these questions as you can.
Content on this has been borrowed with permission from Dawn Stahura 's Evaluating Sources: ACT UP (Links to an external site.).
More more tips on evaluating news and identifying fake news, view the research guide: Evaluating News: Fake News and Beyond.
Did you know that you have a filter bubble around you right now? That every time you do a search on Google, it tailors the results based on your previous search history?
Did you know that your search results will look different if you use Google on campus as opposed to using it at a cafe in Beverly? It's because Google is making certain assumptions about you based on your IP address.
While we all like customized information there is a real danger of being so trapped inside your filter bubble that you never see the other side of a story. In order to be better informed, we need to know what each side is saying about an issue and not fall for confirmation bias (reading only sources that already fall in line with our current views). Here are two free resources to help you do just that!