Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.


Arts 130: Black and Free: Evaluating Sources

A Library guide supporting Dr. Keleta-Mae's Arts130 section

Selecting quality resources

Why Evaluate?

It is important to evaluate the information you are considering for your research. Your professor will know if you are using biased or inaccurate information in your assignments. Incorporating poor quality sources and information will influence the grade you receive on your assignments


What is RADAR?

The RADAR Framework can help you remember what kinds of questions you should be asking about an information source as you evaluate it for quality and usefulness in your research.


 Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic?
  • Who is the intended audience?

Authority: the source of your information

  • Who is the creator or author?
  • What are their credentials?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

Date: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published?
  • When was the information updated?
  • Does your topic require recent information?

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • Supported by evidence
  • Provides logical analysis
  • Cites quality research and studies

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, propaganda?
  • Is the language or tone unbiased and free from emotion?

What is the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources?

Primary Secondary Tertiary

Primary sources are first-hand accounts or individual representations. They are created by those who have directly witnessed what they are describing. 

Secondary sources interpret and/or analyze primary sources, as they offer different perspectives, analyses and conclusions on a given topic.    Tertiary sources are a compilation or digest of primary and secondary materials. Generally, they are agreed upon fact.


  • Research data and surveys
  • Letters or diaries
  • Original photographs
  • Speeches or autobiographies
  • Newspaper reports
  • Original research in math and science (journal articles and conference proceedings)


  • Essays or reviews
  • Articles that analyze or discuss ideas and events
  • Criticisms or commentaries


  • Dictionaries
  • Encyclopedias
  • Guidebooks
  • Almanacs

When should I use journal articles for my assignment?

Journal articles should be used for your assignments and research, as they are written by expert researchers and critiqued by specialists in the field.

It is important to note the difference between a peer reviewed article and a popular article. Peer reviewed articles refer to those that have been edited and reviewed by authors’ peers, who are experts in the same field.

Popular articles are not peer reviewed, and are written to inform the general public.

How do I know if an article is peer-reviewed?

From the library’s list of research databases select Ulrichs Web Global Serials Directory. This allows users to discover information about the journal, such as whether or not it is peer-reviewed.

In Ulrichs, use the search bar to search the name of the journal that your article is indexed in. Journals that are peer-reviewed are referred to as “refereed.” 

How can I learn more?

Visit the UW library’s online research guide Evaluating Information Sources.


Mandalios, J. (2013). RADAR: An approach for helping students evaluate Internet sources. Journal Of Information Science, 39, 470-478. doi:10.1177/0165551513478889

Organizing your sources

  • Have a folder system (or file/pile system if working with printed documents) i. Label or store sources in High, Medium, and Low priority piles or folders
  • As you first select material, summarize each source in 1-3 lines summarizing the key points as they relate to your essay.
  • Store and label documents in a functional way. i. Save PDFs and other documents by titling them "AUTHOR_TITLE_ YEAR_DATE_ACCESSED.pdf"

Managing your time and energy

At certain points of the information searching and appraisal process you will feel uncertain and perhaps anxious. This is because you are likely consuming a large amount of information that is both new and contradictory to itself and what you have previously known. When you are feeling uncertain, research suggests that it is helpful to seek out someone to verbalize your thoughts with or to provide advice.  Doing this will help you clarify your own thoughts, as well as help you position yourself within all this new information. Peers, librarians, your instructor, or (in a pinch) even someone who knows very little about the topic. 

Once you develop and clarify your position on the topic, you will likely feel more confident moving forward with your appraisal and searching processes.