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Source Evaluation

A module for understanding how to evaluate sources, designed specifically for Logic & Critical Thinking (PHIL 2020)

Currency

Why is currency important?

If you find an argument about cardiovascular disease, what is better: an article published using data collected last year, or one in 1970? Just sayin'!

So here are some questions to ask:

  • When was the information published or posted?
    • Generally speaking, the more recent the better when you're considering current events and scientific research. If you're looking at historical information (say, the fall of the Roman empire) it might not be as important.
      • HINT: A website's date might be tricky to find. First look around on the page - is there a date at the top or bottom of the article? Sometimes the main website's date will be at the bottom, but remember, that's the WHOLE site, not the information you're reviewing.
      • PRO TIP: No specific date? That's a strike against it!
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
    • If you're looking at an article published in 1999, that's pretty old. But what if it was published in 1999, and revised in 2015? Is the revision based on new information? That might be really important to the validity of an argument!
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
    • An article can be published this year, but based on old information. For example, you can read an essay about the great pyramids of Egypt, but if it doesn't talk about the new discoveries made in 2017, is that information up-to-date?
  • If it's a website, are the links functional?
    • This one is quick and easy to check. If the website you're looking at has a bunch of links, do those links work? If not, maybe the site has been around so long that all those other sites have closed down!

Self-Check

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