Week 5 Source Evaluation Worksheet

First read the notes that begin on p. 3 of this handout and the table that follows. Then, complete the analysis for each of your sources.

Part 1: Annotation

Using APA format, identify the source and write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article.  A sample annotation can be found in the directions for this assignment.

Annotation 1

Annotation 2

(Continue for as many annotations as you have developed)

Example: Annotation 1

Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and t he erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51, 541-554.


The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living


Part 2: Source Evaluation

Use the following criteria to evaluate each source:


  1. How current is this the source you are using? (If not current – explain why information is still applicable)

Source 1

Source 2

(Continue for as many sources as you have developed)


Example 2a

2a. While this source is not current, it has formed the basis for numerous follow-up studies and it frequently cited in the literature; it has both historical value and also serves as a base-point for tracking changing attitudes.


  1. How authoritative, credible, reliable? (For example: recognized expert; peer-reviewed journal; trusted site such as .edu, .gov, .mil; experienced and knowledgeable in the field; information consistent across several sources, etc.)

Source 1

Source 2

(Continue for as many sources as you have developed)


Example 2b

2b. This is a scholarly source; the source is credible, reliable and authoritative.  The authors were experts in their fields, published their study in a peer-reviewed journal, and the study has held up under rigorous scrutiny by other experts in the field.


  1. Briefly state specifically how this source provides evidence that strongly supports your conclusion. For example, “the article discusses significant evidence that this diet provides all essential nutrients and supports my view that the diet is healthy” “this study shows that this diet is deficient in vitamin D and supports my point that this diet is not healthy”  “this survey revealed that obesity is on a rapid rise among all demographic groups and supports my view that obesity is epidemic”


Source 1

Source 2

(Continue for as many sources as you have developed)

Example 2c

2c. This source strongly supports my thesis that the current pattern of young adults remaining with family because they cannot afford independent living due to student loan obligations is having a negative effect on young adults developing self-sufficiency and individualism.


  1. If the information is “popular” or if it is from a blog, from a marketing site, or is persuasive in nature (i.e., an editorial or opinion piece, or a publication of a special interest group such as a trade organization, union, etc.) explain why you are using the source and why you cannot use a more substantive or scholarly source.

Source 1

Source 2

(Continue for as many sources as you have developed)


Example 2d

2d. This source is popular; it is used to show how public opinion was influenced by advertising.

Notes: Evaluating Sources

  1. In 2b, rate your journal and periodical sources (whether you are looking at hard copy or on-line) as scholarly, substantive or popular. The Table “Distinguishing between Scholarly and Non-scholarly Periodicals” will work for evaluating either print or on-line journals, newspapers, and periodicals.
  2. Beware of bias in any specific article. Determine if the source is authoritative, credible, reliable, current and unbiased.  (If not current, then information can be rated “valid, regardless of age,” — i.e., a 1999 web-based article on the American Civil War is not “current,” but can be “valid regardless of age.”)  All sources should be authoritative, credible, reliable, current and unbiased.  If bias is found, state if bias may or may not affect the credibility and reliability of the information you will use and how you will compensate for possible bias.
  3. For websites, generally speaking, .gov and .mil sites are acceptable sources in academic papers. Most .edu websites will be acceptable, but analyze under the criteria in 2 above.
  4. If the website is a .com, .org or .biz website, you must further evaluate for authority, reliability and credibility. Never use a .com, .org or .biz site without evaluating across these criteria. Be especially careful about blogs – generally speaking, don’t use them. Many newspaper and magazines also publish to websites; evaluate those just as you would a journal or periodical.
    1. Authoritative
      • Who are the author(s)?
      • Are they recognized experts in their field? – check the <About> column or google the author’s name?
      • What is the level of education of the author? Experience?  Knowledge of the subject?
      • Is the information at a level appropriate to an upper-level academic paper?
    2. Credible
      • How does the information compare to other, similar information? Always look for more than one source – verify that all points of view are represented
    3. Reliable
      • Is it timely?
      • Does it come from a trusted source?


Distinguishing Between Scholarly and Non-Scholarly Publications


Examples American Journal of Nursing


New England Journal of Medicine

American Journal of Kidney Diseases

National Geographic

 Psychology Today

NY Times

The Atlantic


Vanity Fair

Huffington Post

USA Today

Purpose & Use •      Knowledge dissemination

•      Reports of original research

•      in-depth topic analysis

•      Statistical information

•      For profit

•      Current events and news

•      Introduces a subject

•      Interviews

•      Analysis and opinion

•      For profit

•      Current events and news

•      Overview of topic

•      Entertainment

•      Sell products

Audience •      Reader knows the field (e.g., specialists) •      General audience •      General audience
Authors •      Researchers

•      Academics

•      Scholars

•      Journalists

•      Freelance writers

•      Specialists or scholars

•      Freelance writers

•      Staff writers

•      Journalists

Content & Language •      Description of research methods with conclusions

•      Objective

•      Assumes knowledge of language and specialist jargon

•      Article may have a specific structure

•      Usually peer-reviewed

•      Explanation of a subject

•      Interpretation of a research article

•      May or may not be objective

•      Use of non-technical vocabulary

•      Shorter articles than in scholarly  publications

•      May be biased toward a particular point of view

•      Less depth

•      Everyday language

•      Often written like a story

Publishers •      Professional organizations

•      University or scholarly presses

•      Research institutions

•      Commercial entities

•      Trade and professional organizations

•      Commercial entities

•      Trade organizations

Sources •      Includes bibliography and/or notes

•      Includes extensive citation of sources

•      Includes author credentials

•      Sometimes includes sources

•      May / may not include author credentials

•      Rarely includes citations of sources

•      Rarely includes author credentials

Graphics •      Includes graphs, charts, and tables

•      Advertising is very rare

•      Illustrated, often with photographs

•      Advertising is present

•      Heavily illustrated

•      Lots of advertising