Assessing and Evaluating Sources

What are the Author's Biases?

Every author holds opinions that affect his or her discussion of an issue, opinions that you as a reader must try to recognize and understand. Even the most seemingly factual report, such as an encyclopedia article, can carry an understated or implied judgment. Such judgments reflect an author's bias or preference for one side of an issue over another.

As you evaluate a source, consider whether the author's bias affects his or her presentation of information and opinions. Ask whether this results in one side of an issue being treated more favorably than another. To explore an author's biases, you must ask where his or her allegiances lie. Is the bias hidden or stated? Ask yourself if you need to look for a balancing viewpoint or approach?

Just because an author has a strong bias does not mean that he or she has written something invalid. However, in the interest of being prepared to fend off attacks from those who want to challenge your analysis or argument, it is best if you recognize, early on, to what biases an author does hold.

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