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Guide for undergraduates writing a paper or doing research in either physical or human geography.

Evaluating Sources

It is important to critically evaluate the information you are using. Not all resources are of the same quality. This is especially important when dealing with databases that index both scholarly and popular works. Even with scholarly works it is important to assess the objectivity of the author/publisher, currency and relevance of the work. It is especially important to place the information resource in the context in which it was created when the topic is controversial.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who wrote and published the article? What background and biases do they bring to the subject?
  • Why did they create and publish the item? The item may be an attempt to convey unbiased fact or a blatant effort to persuade.
  • When was it made and published? 

When looking for information, it may be appropriate to use popular works, or works with a certain bias in your paper if you are presenting differing public opinions on a subject. However, it is important that you distinguish opinion from research and clearly represent your sources as what they are.

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