Sources offer important credibility to your paper about literature, but what if the source isn't trustworthy? These few steps will give you some ideas about how to make sure your sources give your paper a level of credibility.
Time Required: Varies
- In general, a book published by a university press is likely but not necessarily more trustworthy than mass-market books that are written in a hurry to make a quick profit.
- Evaluating sources on the Internet is especially challenging since literally anyone can create a Web site, and you will need to use good judgment to decide if the information you find is trustworthy.
- The more you learn about literature, the more you will be able to judge the value of your sources. You will need to check the bibliography, documentary notes, and index.
- Find out the date of the source material. Depending on the topic of your paper, the date may or may not make a big difference. It can be helpful to include current research along with more well-known and established academic sources.
- You will need to know what the author's credentials. A book or article will often include a brief biography of the author. You may also look for other articles or books that the author has written.
- You will need to think about whether the journal or newspaper is known to be generally fair, or if it is biased in some way. If you notice a bias and still want to use the source, you might want to mention this in your paper.
- Find out how much documentation the author used to create the article or book. Look at the footnotes, endnotes, or bibliography.
- If the topic of the article or book is controversial, see how the source handles the issue(s). Does the writer seem to present the material in a balanced way?
- Read background material about the writer and on the article or book. Checking reviews can also give you some idea of what the book contains and how it may be useful to your research.
- Remember that the sources you use for a paper are very important.
- If you have questions about credibility, you can usually talk to your professor or someone at the Writing Center of your local college or university.