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Fire Science: Evaluating Sources

Is It Credible?

Not sure whether the article you just found is suitable for your paper? Consider the following criteria:

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

Authority: The source of the information.

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content.

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

The Five W's

Another way to think about the reliability of a source is to ask the following:

Who wrote the article? Think about the author's qualifications, education, profession, etc.

What does the article say? Does the content address the topic of your paper? Is it written at an appropriate level?

When was the article published? Is it current or out-of-date?

Where was the article published? Did it run in a popular magazine or a scholarly publication? What kind of website is hosting this information?

Why was the article written? Does the author have an agenda or bias?

Magazines vs. Journals

Magazines:

...are intended for general audiences.
...do not undergo peer review.
...may report on research secondhand.
...do not include citations.
...are easy to read.
...have attractive layouts and photographs.
...have many advertisements.
...are published commercially for profit.

Journals:
...are written for experts by experts.
...often undergo peer review.
...often report on original research.
...include citations.
...have lots of technical jargon.
...have few illustrations outside of charts.
...have few or no advertisements.
... are often published by professional groups.


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