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ENGL 103 Controversial Issue / Argument Paper

Step 5. Evaluate Your Sources

The next step is to evaluate your sources.  Consider the following:


  • Who is the author?
  • What makes the author credible to write about this controversial issue?
    • Think about their education or experience
    • Example: A credible author for information about global warming might include an environmental scientist or a meteorologist


  • Who is the publisher?
  • What do you know about them? 
  • What is their motivation for publishing this information? (government, educational, for profit, scam, hoax, etc.)
    • Note: Wikipedia isn't a credible publisher because anyone can create or edit the content.


  • How old is the source?
  • Does date matter? 
    • Note: most controversial issues are "hot topics" in the news.  For best results, find sources published within the last 3-5 years.


  • Is the author or publisher associated with a company, organization, or agency that would make them biased on the topic?
    • Example: Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, might be a little biased when asked about the effects of social media on society
  • Is your source only sharing one side of the argument?
    • Example: Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, will probably only share the positive effects of social media on society
  • Be sure to include sources from both sides of the argument in your paper to show how the issue is addressed on each side. 
  • Almost all sources will contain some level of bias. Use your best judgment when selecting sources and always evaluate your sources.