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Film Studies: Evaluate sources

IF I APPLY: A Tool for Evaluating Sources

IF I APPLY steps

Personal Steps:

Identify emotions attached to topic.

Find reference sources and evaluate bias for a proper view of the topic


Intellectual courage to seek authoritative voices on topics that may be outside of thesis.

Source steps:

Authority established. Does the author have education and experience in that field?

Purpose/point of view of source. Does the author have an agenda beyond education or information?

Publisher. Does the publisher have an agenda?

List of sources (bibliography). Is the evidence sound?

Year of publication. Does the year of publication affect the information?

IF I APPLY process questions

Looking for more questions to help you evaluate your source?

This document has suggestions on even more questions you could ask yourself about your source and topic

Evaluation Questions

Evaluating sources is difficult, but asking yourself some critical questions about each of your potential sources can really help. The following questions are just a starting point, but can help you quickly weed out less useful sources and then more closely examine what you have left. 

How is the source related to your broad topic?

How is the source related to your specific research question? 

  • Is it directly related? Does it provide context? 

Do you understand the source?

  • Can you summarize the main points and the evidence used as support? 
  • Do you need any background information to enhance your understanding?

Is the source appropriate for your project?

  • Does it conform to your assignment instructions?
  • How timely is it? How does this matter to your research question?
  • How authoritative is it? Can you determine anything about the author? The publication it's in?
  • What kinds of bias or authorial intent can you detect? Why was it written and published? Who is the intended audience? 

How might you use this source?

  • As a pathway to additional research, via the bibliography?
  • Direct evidence to support a claim? 
  • As corroborating evidence? To provide a dissenting viewpoint? To provide background or context for your reader?
  • Look at the quotations/statistics/facts you want to use. Are you accurately representing the author's intent, or simply cherry-picking to support your claims (warning: cherry-picking is not ethical). 

How to Skim a Scholarly Article: Triage Method

How to Skim a Scholarly Article: Triage Method

  1. Abstract: Quickly skim the Abstract of the article for your keywords and/or words related to your research topic. If the source seems relevant to your research, move on to the next step.
  2. Introduction: Next, skim the Introduction of the article. Note any keywords and synonyms for your keywords. If the Introduction passes inspection, move on to the next step.
  3. Conclusion: Read the Conclusion of the article and note what the article is arguing and whether it is relevant for your research topic/question.
  4. Body: Now, go back and skim the body text of the article. Use the Find function (CTRL/Command+F) to locate keywords and relevant synonyms throughout the article.
  5. Bibliography: Skim the Bibliography portion and open links to additional sources that look relevant to your research. Note any relevant sources and save them for later.
  6. Congratulations! If you've made it this far and the article still seems relevant to your research, there is a very good chance that it is a useful source for your research assignment.