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ETHN 165: Community Based Research Methods (Fernandez)

Course guide for Ethnic 165 (Professor Fernandez) Fall Qtr 2023

Is My Source Credible?

The definition of a credible source can change depending on the discipline, but in general, for academic writing, a credible source is one that is unbiased and is backed up with evidence. When writing a research paper, always use and cite credible sources. Use this checklist to determine if an article is credible or not:

  • Is the source in-depth (more than a page or two), with an abstract, a reference list, and documented research or data?
  • Who is the audience (researchers, professors, students, general population, professionals in a specific field)?
  • What is the purpose of the source (provide information or report original research or experiments, to entertain or persuade the general public, or provide news or information specific to a trade or industry)?
  • Who are the authors? Are they respected and well-known in the field? Are they easily identifiable? Have they written about other similar topics? What are their credentials?
  • Is the source reputable? Is it published on a reputable, non-biased web site, or in a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal, and not from a newspaper, blog, or wiki?
  • Is the source current for your topic?
  • Is there supporting documentation (graphs, charts, illustrations or other supporting documentation)?

Where does your source come from?

  • government or military (.gov or .mil) - Government or military websites end in .gov or .mil, and in general are reliable sources on the web. However, beware of political sites used to sway public opinion.
  • university (.edu) - University web sites end in .edu, and are usually reliable. Use these sites with caution, checking for credibility and authority.
  • company website (.com) - Company web sites generally end in .com. These sites are great for information about a particular company. However be aware that company websites are used to promote, so be sure the information is non-biased.
  • special interest (.org) - While many professional organizations end in .org, there are also many .orgs that are biased and promote a specific agenda.