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FW 255: Field Sampling

Task 4: Reading Critically and Evaluating Sources

ALERT! For some basic details or commonly-used techniques, you might need to carefully venture into non-peer-reviewed articles or websites to find information that is important to add to your project’s approach.

For this assignment, use Google (or another search tool) to search for information on one or more techniques you are considering in your sampling design. 

Consider the source of the information you find. Is it likely that the authors/contributors are bringing professional expertise and accuracy to the product and knowledge you found?

For this task, find one non-journal article source of information that can support you in building your project and cite it on the homework assignment.

Use the following Guidelines for Evaluating Non-Scholarly Sources to make sure you are using reliable information.

Guidelines for Evaluating Non-Scholarly Sources

There is no simple formula for evaluating sources; evaluation always depends on the needs of your audience, for example, how much background information do they need, will more basic information be more effective, or will more in-depth information be more compelling?

Here is a basic framework you can use to evaluate both your needs and your audience's needs and analyze how well your sources support it:

1. Is the source useful to you?

  • Does it provide the kind of information you need?
  • Does it meet your assignment requirements?
  • Does it make you think? Did it spark further questions or suggest additional lines of inquiry?
  • Does it help you contextualize or understand other sources?

2. Is this the type of source your audience expects you to use?

  • Is it at the right level -- not too difficult nor too easy for your audience? 
  • Will it give you more credibility with your audience if you use it?

3. Who created the source?

  • Is the author identified AND if they are, are they someone you find credible?
  • If the author is not identified, is there a group or institution responsible for the source?  Do you find that group credible?
  • Have you done whatever additional research you need to do to decide if the author is credible or useful? 

4. What is the author's (or institution's or agency's) purpose in creating this source?

  • Are they trying to persuade you to do or think something specific?
  • Are they selling something?
  • Does their purpose or agenda affect the quality of their evidence? Did it affect how they presented it?

(This framework is adapted from one created by OSU librarian Anne-Marie Deitering in The Academic Writer, by Lisa Ede)