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Evaluating Sources

Ask Yourself...

  • What is the purpose of the information? [inform, teach, sell, entertain, persuade]  Was the source created to inform you of something or to persuade you of something?
  • Does the author(s) or sponsor make their intentions clear?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are all sides of the issue represented?
  • Are there potential political, religious, or ideological biases?
  • Is the language calm and neutral or inflammatory?
  • Check for the author's organizational memberships [Southern Baptist, NRA, Sierra Club, etc.] that might indicate potential bias.

*For web sources, do page links lead to other sites or simply link to other pages on the same site?

Can I Ever Use a Biased Source?

Yes, there may be times when it is appropriate to use sources with a bias.  For example, if you are writing an argumentative paper on a controversial topic, you will want to understand and present both sides of the issue.  If you are using a biased source, it's a good idea to acknowledge that in your writing.  Most importantly, you have to be able to recognize if your source is biased and if it is appropriate for your assignment.  If you aren't sure, ask a librarian or your professor.

News Media Bias