Is the Source Relevant?
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Another basic question you should be asking yourself when evaluating new source material is if it is relevant to your topic. The Meriam Library again has a list of helpful questions you can consider when determining relevance:

Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?

This question sounds simple enough, but it is oftentimes one that can be easily overlooked when writing up against a deadline. Information is good. Information from credible sources is also good. However, if that information does not directly relate to the topic you are writing about or help you answer the question you are answering, then it does not belong in your essay.

Who is the intended audience?

Have you recently reviewed the lesson on Purpose and Audience in informative Writing? One of the things that lesson focuses on is how important it is to accurately identify your audience and their needs. Just as important as this skill though is your ability to read and accurately judge the intended audience of other people’s writing products.

For example, imagine for a moment that you have been asked to prepare a brief talk for a children’s fireside about the Atonement. Knowing the limited time you have and the young age of the audience members, which source might you pull from to support your thoughts: the Come Follow Me—For Primary manual or Tad R. Callister’s comprehensive hardcover book The Infinite Atonement? Both would offer a lot of great truth and insight, but which source’s intended audience would match best with your own intended audience?

Have you looked at other resources?

Another part of source evaluation that is often overlooked is the simple act of doing research. Far too often, writers are in such a rush to get something on paper that they quickly select and use the first source they can find instead of taking the time to collect several possible source options that can then be compared, organized, and prioritized for use. The first relevant source you find is not always the best one. Set aside the time to research, collect, and compare.

Ponder and Record

  • What type of source would best align with the topic you are writing about?
  • How should your intended audience inform the types of sources you choose to draw from?

Need More Help?

  1. Study other Writing Lessons in the Resource Center.
  2. Visit the Online Tutoring Resources in the Resource Center.
  3. Contact your Instructor.
  4. If you still need help, Schedule a Tutor.