Questions to Ask about Print Sources
- Is the source relevant to your research project? Is it related to your argumentative claim? Does the table of contents in a book indicate its relevance? Does an article contain an abstract that summarizes its contents?
- What is the purpose of the publication? Is it to sell a product or service? Is it to inform? Is it to publish new research? Is it to shape opinion about a particular issue or cause?
- Who is the author of your source? Is information provided about the author's credentials and profession? Is the author an expert on the topic? Does the author's stance on the topic appear to influence information in the source?
- What can you tell about the publisher? Is the publisher a nationally respected newspaper, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, or Newsweek? Is the publisher a major publishing corporation, such as Bedford/St. Martins or Houghton Mifflin? Is the source found in an academic or professional journal, such as College English or the New England Journal of Medicine?
- Are your chosen sources documented? Is the information consistent with that found in other print, electronic and field sources?
- How specialized is your sources information? Does it provide a broad overview of an issue? Does it focus on a narrow topic using highly specialized jargon? Will your audience be able to understand key terms from the source? Do you understand the key ideas in the source?
- What is the date of publication? Is the information contained in the document current? Does it need to be? Depending on your topic, it may not.