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Research Help for Covenant High School Students: Source Engagement and Evaluation



This page will provide you with resources that will help you to better engage with sources, using critical thinking skills to evaluate and cite your sources. 


A Source Evaluation Checklist

Often we seek information that confirms our own thoughts and feelings towards a topic. This is NOT RESEARCH. Research and learning comes from finding sources that speak to the truth of a topic, no matter how much it hurts  Only by keeping personal biases in check can you begin to vet information for credibility.

These steps will help you find sources that are credible and reliable in your research process.

Personal Steps (IF I)

  • Identify emotions attached to the topic.
  • Find unbiased reference sources that will provide an overview of the topic.


  • Intellectual courage is needed to seek authoritative voices on the topic.

Source Steps (APPLY)

  • Authority established. Does the author have the education or expertise?
  • Purpose/Point of view. Does the author have an agenda beyond education or information?
  • Publisher? Does the publisher have an agenda?
  • List of sources. Is the evidence reliable, sensible, and accessible?
  • Year of publication. Does the date of publication affect the information?



IF I APPLY is primarily concerned with the quality and credibility of resources, but we must also consider the relevance of sources to our argument and our assignment. Consider the following questions when deciding whether or not to use information from a resource in your essay.


  • Consider your research question. What are you hoping to accomplish with your paper or project?

  • Is the content appropriate for your purpose?


  • What does the source add to an understanding of your topic or argument?


  • How does the source relate to other information you've found?


  • How does the source relate to your ideas or argument?


  • Is the information at an appropriate level?


  • Does it provide background information? Does it provide evidence for one of your points? Can I use the information as an example to illustrate a point?


  • Is there a reference list? Are there relevant sources here?