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AP History Research: Evaluating Sources

An introduction to the Alvin Sherman Library and its resources to be used by Broward County high school students in AP History classes.

ABCD's of Evaluating Sources

A = Author

  • After you find a source of information that you might want to use, think about the author(s) of the source.  Are the authors experts and qualified to write on the topic?  What are their credentials?  Are they affiliated with any organizations or a university?
  • Also, consider the publisher or source.  Where was the information published?  Was it published in a peer-reviewed journal?  Do a little investigating on the author and source to make sure the information provided can be considered reputable. 

B = Bias

  • Look for any bias in the information.  Does this information presented cover all sides of the topic in a neutral, objective manner?  What is the purpose of this information… to inform, teach, persuade, or sell? 

C = Content

  • Critically evaluate the actual content of the document.  Is the information provided as a superficial overview or a detailed analysis?  Is the information relevant to your topic or does it deviate too much?  Is the readership level too simple or too sophisticated? Also, focus on the accuracy of the content.  Does the information match your understanding of the topic and can you verify the claims in other sources?  Compare its findings to those of other related articles.  Do not rely on only one source. 

D = Date

  • Consider when was the information was published, updated, or revised.  Has the information become outdated?  Also, look at the date of the reference list provided.  Are those sources too old?

Related Guides

OWL

Here is a helpful overview on evaluating sources from Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL):