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Critical Thinking & Academic Research

This guide is created to aid you in your development of critical thinking skills and in your ability to conduct research using library resources.

Tip 3- Authority


Questions to Ask

  • Who is the author? Is he or she an expert on this topic? What are the author's credentials or affiliations?
  • Is the source sponsored or published by a reputable organization or institution?
  • Is the author the interpreter of the information or the original creator of the information?
  • Look at the organization or body that published the information. Is it an authoritative publishing platform? Does it have an explicit position or bias?

Where should you look to determine the authorship of a source?

Print & Online Sources

  • Examine or the author's background for credentials and affiliations
  • See if you can find more sources written by the author(s) and examine them - are they scholarly?
  • Look for the author's contact information
  • Examine the publication platforms' credentials

What to avoid

  • Authors who have no credentials or affiliations, no expertise on the topic
  • Personal websites. 
  • Sided information, not based on facts

Exercise: Identify Authoritative Sources

Authority is the source of the information. It is the author’s intention (educating, entertaining, scientific inventions) and what their credentials and/or affiliations are.

You are doing research on this topic: Food Security: Resilient, Sustainable, and Global Food Security for Health, and you are asked to write a research paper indicating scientific facts and data. See the following resources and critique the authorship. Try to answer the questions above while critiquing. 

1- Glover, Megan. Food Security Matters. The Kingston Whig-Standard. Jun 21, 2017,

2- Lawrence, M. A., Baker, P. I., Pulker, C. E., & Pollard, C. M. (2019). Sustainable, resilient food systems for healthy diets: The transformation agenda. Public Health Nutrition, 22(16), 2916-2920.




G.R. Little Library

Elizabeth City State University