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Brackenridge Optometry Library: Evaluating Sources

More direct access to the resources that benefit the Optometry community.


  • Primary goal: to make money
  • Reputation: questionable
  • Emails: flattering, persuasive, and repetitive
  • Databases: none of them included the title
  • Author is targeted by website, not the reader
  • Title: suggests a vague or broad scope
  • Open Access, but publisher retains copyright
  • Revision: not required, instant publication guaranteed
  • Yes, it’s predatory!             

Evaluate That Source

When doing research, you should use a variety of sources such as books, articles from newspapers, magazines, or journals, and websites. Always evaluate your sources.

Authority / Credibility

Determining the author for a source is important in deciding whether information is credible. The author should show some evidence of being knowledgeable, reliable and truthful.

  • Who is the author (person, company, or organization)?
  • Does the source provide any information that leads you to believe the author is an expert on the topic?
  • Can you describe the author's background (experience, education, knowledge)?
  • Does the author provide citations?
  • Do you think they are reputable?

The source should contain accurate and up-to-date information that can be verified by other sources.

  • Can facts or statistics be verified through another source?
  • Based on your knowledge, does the information seem accurate?
  • Does it match the information found in other sources?
  • Are there spelling or grammatical errors?
Scope / Relevance

It is important that the source meets the information needs and requirements of your research assignment.

  • Does the source cover your topic comprehensively or does it cover only one aspect?
  • To what extent does the source answer your research question?
  • Is the source considered popular or scholarly?
  • Is the terminology and language used easy to understand?
Currency / Date

Some written works are ageless (e.g., classic literature) while others (e.g., technological news) become outdated quickly. It is important to determine if currency is pertinent to your research.

  • When was the source written and published?
  • Has the information been updated recently?
  • Is currency pertinent to your research?
Objectivity / Bias / Reliability

Every author has an opinion. Recognizing this is instrumental in determining if the information presented is objective or biased.

  • What is the purpose or motive for the source (educational, commercial, entertainment, promotional, etc.)?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the author pretending to be objective, but really trying to persuade, promote or sell something?
Style / Functionality

Style and functionality may be of lesser concern. However, if the source is not well-organized, its value is diminished.

  • Is the source well-written and organized?
  • To what extent is it professional looking?
  • If it is a website, can you navigate around easily?
  • If it is a website, are links broken?

Tips It's a Research Article

  • Will be listed as primary research, original research, basic research, or clinical trial. Primary research is clinical or experimental in nature where as secondary research reviews previous studies.
  • Authors’ names and affiliations are clearly stated on the first page of article.
  • May have identifying numbers assigned to indicate indexed in database PMID: 28122407 (for PubMed) or digital object identifier DOI: 10.1111/cxo.12507 which is a persistent link to the article.
  • Will have an ABSTRACT – Some elements potentially listed in a structured abstract via headings: Purpose, Introduction, Scope, Design, Participants, Methods/Methodology, Outcome Measures, Results, Discussion, Conclusion. You won't see all of these in one article.
  • ABSTRACTS are 150 – 300 words that summarize the article and help you determine if you need to read the entire article.
  • Will have REFERENCES listed at the end of the article – all the resources the author consulted for their research.
  • Will list KEYWORDS – to make searching more on the subject easier.

Example of acceptable research article:

                Research Article Example First Page


Tell-tale signs this article is not for this assignment:

States Review at the top and the abstract's first statement says "review."

                Example Review Article First Page Image


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