Stephen Shoop

Authoritative Sources

What Are Authoritative Sources?

When conducting research it is necessary to rely on various sources, many of which are from other fields.  This is especially the case regarding works that provide background information and/or theoretical concepts.  Many of these types of sources tend to be books.  How does the researcher determine whether or not a source is “authoritative?”  An evaluation may be made based on answers to the following questions:  (1) Is a source often cited in other works?  Citations typically appear in footnote, endnotes, and bibliographies.  As a researcher reviews literature, one will begin to notice that some sources appear over and over again.  (2)  In the case of a book, has the publication been around for a number of years?  Have more current editions been published?  (3) Does the author seem to be respected?  A quick “Google” search will pull up a substantial amount of information about people who have made considerable contributions in their areas of specialty.  If the answer to these three questions is “yes,” I believe it is safe to consider a source to be authoritative.

Draft Copy
April 16, 2012

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