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Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Authors

It is important to know how much trust you can put in the creator of a source. 

In many sources, such as magazines, newspapers, or online sources, the only information provided is an author's name and possibly a short bio. In those cases, running a web search on the author's name can help provide information on who this person is and what kind of expertise they have on the topic.

Academic journal articles usually include the author’s affiliation (an educational or research institute, such as a university, where they teach or conduct research). You’ll often be able to find them listed on websites that collect an author’s research resume and publishing history, including ORCID, ResearchGate, and Google Scholar Profiles. These profiles can provide a good perspective on how much experience an author has in their field and their research interests.

In the image below, the authors of this article in the journal Applied Psychology are listed along with their affiliations, including: Lund University, Sweden; KU Leuven, Belgium; North West University, South Africa; and Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, Maastricht, Netherlands.The last author is listed as affiliated with Orangino Work, Sweden. A web search reveals that this is a Swedish company that provides corporate training on teamwork and collaboration.

For the first author, Tomas Jungert, their academic profile can be found on ORCID. This page lists 9 works that they have published on the topic of motivation, with a focus on employee motivation and the motivations behind bullying. The ORCID profile for Bert Schreurs, in comparison, provides a lot more detail, including a short biography, detailed employment information, and a list of 166 published works. His biography indicated that his research focuses on economic stressors and proactive and agentic work behaviors.

Front Page of article titled "How Colleagues Can Support Each Other's Needs and Motivation: An Intervention on Employee Work Motivation" listing the authors and their institutions

Jungert, T., Van den Broeck, A., Schreurs, B., & Osterman, U. (2018). How colleagues can support each other’s needs and motivation:
An intervention on employee work motivation. Applied Psychology, 67(1), 3–29.

In trade journals (publications produced by and for members of a specific profession or industry), there will usually be employment information included about the author, such as past work experience and their current place of work.

The image below displays a short bio at the end of an article in the trade publication, Leadership Excellence. The bio informs us that the author, Heide Abelli is an executive with senior leadership experience and has worked in training, product development, innovation and product management in corporate training and HR tech. They are also a teaching faculty member at the Boston College Carroll School of Management, an independent consultant and an entrepreneur.

A short bio for Heide Abelli at the end of an article in the trade publication, Leadership Excellence

Abelli, H. (2022). To support employee well-being, we must connect work to organizational purpose. Leadership Excellence, 39(12), 35-37.

Investigating an author’s lived experience can also help evaluate their credibility on an issue. They may be someone with a lot of experience on the topic because they have been heavily impacted by it. For example, a person with a disability writing about the impact of accessibility barriers on their day-to-day life can provide a different perspective than someone who does not personally experience that disability. An Indigenous Elder may contribute experience based on their traditional knowledge, lived observations, or position in their community.