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WRITING 121 Atkinson

This information will help you to succeed in Writing 121

The P.R.O.V.E.N. Method


Select accurate and credible sources for your annotated bibliography. The criteria below, adapted from Carey (2021, p. 2), may help in this regard.


Purpose: How and why the source was created.

● Why does this information exist—to educate, inform, persuade, sell, entertain? Do the authors, publishers, or sponsors state this purpose, or try to disguise it? Is the source deliberately trying to misinform?

● Why was this information published in this particular type of source (book, article, website, blog, etc.)?

● Who is the intended audience—the general public, students, experts?


Relevance: The value of the source for your needs.

● Is the type of source appropriate for how you plan to use it and for your assignment’s requirements?

● How useful is the information in this source, compared to other sources? Does it answer your question or support your argument? Does it add something new and important to your knowledge of the topic?

● How detailed is the information? Is it too general or too specific? Is it too basic or too advanced?


Objectivity: The reasonableness and completeness of the information.

● Do the authors present the information thoroughly and professionally? Do they use strong, emotional, manipulative, or offensive language?

● Do the authors, publishers, or sponsors have a particular political, ideological, cultural, or religious point of view? Do they acknowledge this point of view, or try to disguise it?

● Does the source present fact or opinion? Is it biased? Does it offer multiple points of view and critique other perspectives respectfully? Does it leave out, or make fun of, important facts or perspectives?


Verifiability: The accuracy and truthfulness of the information.

● Do the authors support their information with factual evidence? Do they cite or link to other sources? Can you verify the credibility of those sources? Can you find the original source of the information?

● What do experts say about the topic? Can you verify the information in other credible sources?

● Does the source contradict itself, include false statements, or misrepresent other sources?

● Are there errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar?


Expertise: The authority of the authors and the source.

● What makes the authors, publishers, or sponsors of the source authorities on the topic? Do they have related education, or personal or professional experience? Are they affiliated with an educational institution or respected organization? Is their expertise acknowledged by other authorities on the topic? Do they provide an important alternative perspective? Do other sources cite this source?

● Has the source been reviewed by an editor or through peer review?

● Does the source provide contact information for the authors, publishers, and/or sponsors?


Newness: The age of the information.

● Is your topic in an area that requires current information (such as science, technology, or current events), or could information found in older sources still be useful and valid?

● When was the information in the source first published or posted? Are the references/links up to date?

● Are newer sources available that would add important information to your understanding of the topic? 

Reference: Carey, E. (2021). Know more now guide: P.R.O.V.E.N. source evaluation process. Luria Library, Santa Barbara City College.


Authority is a primary consideration when evaluating resources. Authority Is constructed and contextual.

Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required.

Source: Association of College and Research Libraries

Authority can be a complicated and divisive concept. The peer-review process isn't perfect, but it is rigorous. Peer-reviewed materials hold the level of authority that most often suits the needs of your scholarly work as a student. 

Your instructors may use the terms: peer-reviewed materials, scholarly materials, or refereed materials. These terms are used interchangeably. They all mean the same thing. 


Now that you've found material, used the criteria to evaluate the material, and made sure that the information is peer-reviewed, there's one last consideration. Can you ethically use this information in a way that complies with copyright law? Thanks to the Fair Use Doctrine, as a student, you can use most information sources for your assignments as long as you cite your sources carefully. 


There are four factors that help you to determine whether your use of information is allowable under the Fair Use Doctrine:

  1. Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work
  3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

Refer to The U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index to learn more about each of these considerations.


Podcasts deserve a special mention in a discussion of information evaluation. Podcasts are among the most influential sources of information. According to the PEW Research Center, two out of three people between the ages of 18-29 listen to podcasts. A third of podcast listeners have implemented a lifestyle change based on information that they heard on a podcast. Most podcast listeners report that they've read a book or listened to music or seen a movie as a result of hearing about it on a podcast.

The concern is that 87% of podcast listeners believe that the information in podcasts is true most of the time. Podcasts aren't vetted in the same way that peer-reviewed information is vetted. When determining whether or not you should use information from a podcast for your scholarly work, think critically about the information. Use the criteria for evaluation and work closely with your course instructor.