- What are your honest opinions regarding the topic?
- Have you addressed your internal biases?
- Make an all-inclusive list of counter-opinions or counter-arguments.
Finding unbiased resources:
- Conduct a general knowledge overview.
- Search for information in : encyclopedias, wikis, dictionaries, etc.
- Identify credible materials for all of the viewpoints - yours and the additional you identified
- Reject unsound arguments - have the courage to accept that not all viewpoints are valid
- Validity and Invalidity, Soundness and Unsoundness and How do we show that an argument is invalid are two useful resources to help determine the validity of a viewpoint
- Who is the author (may be individual or organization) and/or publisher?
- What are the credentials and affiliation or sponsorship of any named individuals or organizations?
- How objective, reliable, and authoritative are they?
- Have they written other articles or books?
- Is/Are the author(s) listed with contact information (street address, e-mail)?
- Do they specialize in publishing certain topics or fields?
Purpose/Point of view of source
- Does the author have an agenda beyond education or information?
- What can be said about the content, context, style, structure, completeness and accuracy of the information provided by the source?
- Are any conclusions offered? If so, based on what evidence and supported by what primary and secondary documentation?
- What is implied by the content?
- Are diverse perspectives represented?
- Is the content relevant to your information needs?
- Why was the information provided by the source published?
- What are the perspectives, opinions, assumptions and biases of whoever is responsible for this information?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is anything being sold?
- Does the publisher have an agenda?
- When was the information published?
- Publication date is generally located on the title page or on the reverse side of the title page (copyright date).
- Is the information provided by the source in its original form or has it been revised to reflect changes in knowledge?
- Has the publisher published other works?
- Is this information timely and is it updated regularly?
- Is the publisher scholarly (university press, scholarly associations)? Commercial? Government agency? Self (“vanity”) press?
List of resources
- Where else can the information provided by the source be found?
- Is this information authentic?
- Is this information unique or has it been copied?
Year of publication
- Is this information current? Can you find more current or relevant information?
- Is the cited information current? Make sure work is not based on outdated research, statistics, data, etc.
- Is the information routinely updated?
Phillips, K., Roles, E., & Thomas, S. IF I APPLY: a New Recipe for Critical Source Evaluation. The Critical Thinking about Sources Cookbook. Association of College and Research Libraries, Chicago, IL. 2020.