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Remember (reliability spectrum)
The Three R's
Is your source
Recent? Reliable? Relevant?
Is this source up-to-date? Is it about my topic, and does it go into enough depth? Does it come from an authoritative source? Is the information accurate (and are there citations given to back it up)? And why was this information written in the first place?
The Right Source for the Job
Remember, when you're doing pre-research to help you figure out your topic, shallower, more general sources are okay (preferred, even!). Once you're putting together sources for your real arguments -- the things you'd be proud to put in your Works Cited -- you need better information.
- Statistics? Look for government data by limiting your Google search to site:.gov.
- Critical discussions? Scholarly articles, generally via the library databases.
- Write-ups of original research? Scholarly articles again.
- The most recent information? News articles from reputable sources. You may find these through the web or in library databases dedicated to news stories.
- Information heavily biased for/against your topic? Look for (legitimate) organizations that advocate for (or maybe even against) your issue. The bigger and more legitimate they are, the more likely you'll be able to trust data they give you, but keep in mind, they're hardly going to post data that undermines their position.