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Authority of Information Sources and Critical Thinking

This Guide will focus on evaluating information sources (scholarly and non-scholarly) for Authority, using criteria that include the context of the information that is produced, and the purpose for which it will be used.

Define the following terms

  • Critical Thinking : 
    • See below
  • Evaluation : 
    • The action of evaluating or determining the value of (a mathematical expression, a physical quantity, etc.), or of estimating the force of (probabilities, evidence, etc.). (Source: OED)
  • Authority: The fact or state of possessing credible information; power to inspire belief in the truth of something; right to be believed; testimony, evidence.  A person whose opinion or testimony is accepted as true; the author of an accepted opinion or statement; a person with extensive or specialized knowledge on (also upon) a particular subject; an expert. (Source: OED)
  • Expert : One whose special knowledge or skill causes him to be regarded as an authority; a specialist.  (Source: OED)
  • Expertise : The quality or state of being expert; skill or expertness in a particular branch of study or sport. (Source: OED)

Try these sources:


Do you think?

Critical Thinking


A well cultivated critical thinker:

  • raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and
  • gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to
    interpret it effectively 
    comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
  • thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, 
    recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
  • communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.

 Source: Critical Thinking Community

Librarian, Head of Reference

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Madeline Cohen
Leonard Lief Library

250 Bedford Park Blvd. West

Bronx, NY 10468