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Finding Reliable Sources: What is a Reliable Source?

Types of Reliable Sources

A reliable source is one that provides a thorough, well-reasoned theory, argument, discussion, etc. based on strong evidence.

Scholarly, peer-reviewed articles or books -written by researchers for students and researchers.  Original research, extensive bibliography.  Found in  GALILEO's academic databases and Google Scholar. Anatomy of a Scholarly Article.

Trade or professional articles or books - written by practitioners in a field to impart practice-oriented information. Found in GALILEO databases.  Some may also be found through Google or other search engine, but may require payment to see the full text. Beware of sources on the internet that look like trade/professional articles, but don't have reliable content.

Magazine articles, books and newspaper articles from well-established newspapers - written for a general audience by authors or journalists who have consulted reliable sources and vetted through an editor.  These sources may provide some of their articles online for free. Newspapers and magazines often contain both researched news stories and editorial/opinion pieces that express the view of the writer.   It is important to be able to distinguish between them!  Beware of sources on the internet that look like reputable magazines, and newspapers, but don't have reliable content.

Websites and blogs - can be reliable or unreliable, hoaxes or sincere misinformation.  Researchers and other experts often use blogs as a way to share their knowledge with the general public, but anyone with computer access can do so too, to further any agenda they want.  It's up to you to evaluate the quality of what you find online.  Online news sources are particularly notorious for false information. 

Wikipedia - some entries are reliable, some are not - it's up to you to evaluate. The authors are anonymous, so there's no way to determine their expertise, or the expertise of the Wikipedia editor who oversees the entry. Wikipedia editors will post warnings if they think the entry has weaknesses.  Wikipedia entries tend to be conservative, reflecting traditional views over newer research.