Welcome to Geisler Library's Guide to Citation Styles.
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No matter what kind of source (book, journal article, website, etc.) it is important to evaluate your sources to determine if it is appropriate for your project. This can be daunting when you are not an expert, but use the SMELL test to help you.
S - Source - Who is providing the information? Can the author of the page be readily identified and are his/her qualifications for providing the page clearly stated? (For scholarly sources you typically want someone with a PhD in the field of the work.) Is the information timely or too dated? Has the information been reviewed or refereed by other scholars?
M - Motivation - Why does the author present this information, and does that purpose suggest a particular bias? Does it analyze dispassionately - or advocate for a particular stance? (Advocacy isn't bad - but you may have to see how others approach the issues.) Who is the audience (scholarly, general, etc.)?
E - Evidence - What evidence is provided to support the point of the work? What sources does the author use to support her/his claims? Are there notes and/or a bibliography?
L - Logic - Do the facts logically support the conclusions? Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?
L - Left out – What is missing that might change the interpretation? Compare sources to see where there are differences and conflict.
Based on: John McManus, “Don’t Be Fooled: Use the SMELL Test To Separate Fact from Fiction Online” Last modified February 7, 2013 http://mediashift.org/2013/02/dont-be-fooled-use-the-smell-test-to-separate-fact-from-fiction-online038.
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