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Evaluating Sources: An Interactive Guide: Putting It All Together

Use library databases, catalogs, and other tools to help you critically evaluate an article or book and place it in the context of an academic discipline.

Putting it All Together

Look at all of the information you've gathered (or that you and others have gathered, if the various components have been assigned to different groups) and weigh the different parts against each other.  For example, if you don't feel that the author's argument is particularly well-supported, or if there seems to be a lot of disagreement with others writing on the same subject, take a look at the author's expertise.  Has s/he written extensively on this topic, or is s/he new to this field? 

Taken together, the various pieces of information you uncover about the author, the particular publication, and the scholarly conversation on the topic over time can give you a fuller picture of a work's place in the scholarship of a field.  While this exercise isn't something you need to do for every source you're reading, you may find it useful if you're unsure about a source or if you plan to use it as the focus of your own research paper or project.