The CARS checklist is a simple test for any source. Ask yourself about each of the ideas listed below when you find a new source to use. Does my source have...
Credibility - A credible source will clearly list the sponsoring or publishing organization and the author or authors' credentials. Credible sources demonstrate quality control: peer-review, an editing process and clear citations. Credible sources also clearly provide enough evidence to support claims made.
Accuracy - Accurate sources are generally up to date*, use facts to support statements, are detailed rather than vague, and are comprehensive within the scope the author establishes. Check the date, citations and if the author uses generalizations rather than specific, detailed examples.
Reasonableness - Think the opposite of online comments. Reasonable sources are objective, avoid conflict of interest or a slanted or overly biased tone (again, think of online comments). Sources that are trying to sell you something or use extreme language (always, never, overly large numbers or made up statistics, vulgarities, etc.) are genearlly not reasonable.
Support - An article with good support will have citations from other credible, accurate and reasonable sources. These citations are used to back-up claims the author makes by citing data, primary sources or experts in the field. The articles cited may be useful for your assignment as well and are a quick way to add more sources to your research.
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