Currency, or date, is important to note because information can quickly become obsolete. Supporting your research with facts that have been superseded by new research or recent events weakens your argument. Not all assignments require the most current information; older materials can provide valuable information such as a historical overview of your topic. In some disciplines, the date of the source is less important (e.g. History), while in others it is very important (e.g. Science or Technology).
How do you know if timeliness is an important factor for your information? Ask yourself:
Relevance is important because you are expected to support your ideas with pertinent information. A source detailing Einstein's marriage would not be very relevant to a paper about his scientific theories.
How do you know if your source is relevant? Ask yourself some of these questions about the source:
How do you know if your source is an authority? Ask yourself some of these questions about the source:
Accuracy is important because errors and untruths distort a line of reasoning. When you present inaccurate information, you undermine your own credibility.
How do you know if your sources are accurate? Ask the following questions about your sources:
Purpose, or reason for writing, is important because books, articles, and web pages exist to serve a purpose. They can educate, entertain, or sell a product or point of view. Some sources may be frivolous or commercial in nature, providing inaccurate, false, or biased information. Other sources are more ambiguous about any potential partiality. Varied points of view can be valid as long as they are based on good reasoning and careful use of evidence.
How do you determine your source's purpose? Ask these questions: