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Information Literacy for History Courses: Evaluation


Information Literacy for History Courses:  Evaluation

Website Evaluation Form

This is a template website evaluation form. It can be used to help determine the quality of a website.

What's "Authority"?

You've no doubt seen a lot about authority in this guide, maybe you've even heard it mentioned by your professors. So, what does it mean for an author or a source to have "authority"?

Authority is the how an individual can rank the sources they find. The more well established an author's knowledge of the subject or the more reliable the source in general, the greater authority the source has.

Assigning authority is NOT a simple task. It can depend on many different factors including:

  • The extent to which bias factors into the presentation of the event(s)
    • You may be watching film of an event, but are there things missing? What is the film maker's objective?
    • Even if the article is peer-reviewed, could the perspective of the author be skewed? i.e.- American historians writing about the Soviet Union and/or Russia during the Cold War era.
  • The topic that you are researching
    • For example: In future years when historians look at the Arab Spring, tweets from revolutionaries and other witnesses to the events may be just as viable a source as archived new reports and newspaper articles from the time.

Popular and Scholarly Sources

As you have probably experienced, it seems like you can find just about anything on the web these days. While this is not completely accurate, it is true you can find a great variety of types and quality of information on the internet. How to make sense of it all? How can you tell if what you find is from a reliable source and if it is appropriate to use for academic purposes in a paper or class presentation? How can you tell when it is okay to use something you find online as a source and when you should use a library database? Unfortunately there is no simple answer or rule that will always apply here. You can sometimes find some amazing things online and we are indeed fortunate to have access to so much and such varied information. But just as often it is all too easy to get lost, confused, or frustrated when what seems like a simple question or fact you need proves difficult to find. One key distinction that may be of use here is the difference between popular and scholarly sources.


Your Librarian

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Rachel Motes
Carnegie-Vincent Library
Lincoln Memorial University
6965 Cumberland Gap Parkway
Harrogate, TN 37752