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Arts 140: Irrational Economics: Evaluating sources

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.

Evaluate using RADAR

You can use this "RADAR" guide to help you assess an item's quality and usefulness in your assignment.


Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does this item support or help advance your work/argument?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Which discipline is this information from?

Authority: the source of your information

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

Date: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information created?
  • When was the information last updated?
  • Does your topic require recent information?
  • Could this work be used to provide historical context or comparison?

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

  • Does it provide logical analysis?
  • Does it cite quality research and studies?
  • Has this work been peer-reviewed?

Reason for writing. Ask the question: is this item meant to inform, educate, persuade, sell something ...?

  • Why has this information been created?
  • What is the purpose of the information?
  • Who has funded this research? What are the aims of the funder?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, propaganda?
  • Is the language or tone unbiased and free from emotion?

Mandalios, Jane. “RADAR: An Approach for Helping Students Evaluate Internet Sources.” Journal of Information Science 39, no. 4 (2013): 470–78.

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

It is important to note that it is the JOURNAL which is designated as peer-reviewed, not necessarily the individual article. For example, some journals will have editorials or opinion pieces and these will not necessarily be peer-reviewed.

Some of the Databases have a limiter/facet for peer-reviewed and sometimes, the article itself will indicate original submission date and date of acceptance, which generally indicates that a review process has been undertaken.

However, if none of these indicators are present, there is a resource, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory, which allows users to get information about the journal, such as whether or not it is peer-reviewed. In Ulrichsweb, search the name of the journal in which your article is located. Under the Basic Description of the journal, look for “Refereed.”

For more information, see Identifying Peer Review Articles and The Peer Review Process

What's 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