Your instructor will often require you to use "credible," "reliable," "academic," "scholarly," or "peer-reviewed" sources for your projects. Here are some clues to help you evaluate the trustworthiness of a resource.
For popular sources, such as newspapers, magazines, non-academic books, and some websites you might try the SMART Check method. It involves answering critical questions about your source, including:
If you cannot determine if a source is trustworthy, get help from a librarian, or find another source.
While information from popular sources can be credible, sources from university presses, academic associations, and some reputable commercial publishers are considered some of the most reliable types of academic sources. An example might be a book published by Oxford University Press or an article from the Journal of American Psychological Association. In the sciences, peer-reviewed journals are often considered the most valuable type of information, in part because journal articles include information that makes them easier to evaluate!
Here's more on the peer-review process for journal articles from NC State University Libraries.
(This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license, by North Carolina State University Libraries.)
On the next page we'll look at ways to find keywords that will help you find the sources you need for your research paper.