CRITICAL ANALYSIS WORKSHEET
This worksheet is designed to help you better read and analyze your sources for your
paper. Until these questions become natural to you whenever you read a source, you
should revisit this worksheet and use it with each source. (Print as many copies of
this worksheet as you need from our website.)
For regular purposes, simply going through this list of questions and mentally
answering each one is enough. If you are using this list to prepare for a written critique
of a source, you probably should write your answers down, to solidify them a bit more.
Get all necessary information about the source for the MLA citation first!
Article Title: Author(s):
Website Title: Access Date:
Institution/Organization associated with website: Latest Update (if given):
URL: Journal/Magazine Title:
Database Name: Journal/Magazine Volume:
Look at your potential source, and ask yourself the following questions, in order,
about the source.
If you aren’t able to answer a question, go back to the source and review/re-read it
again (or at least the pertinent sections).
If, after reviewing, you still can’t answer the question in any detail, you can go on if
you wish; however, this source probably isn’t the best source for you to be using.
(Note that I’m not saying that it’s a bad source or that there’s anything wrong with
you, just that if the source and yourself as a reader don’t mesh, using it in your
paper is a bad idea.)
1. What are the author’s credentials? What makes him or her a trustworthy source for a
synthesis paper (as opposed to something read for personal pleasure/information)?
2. For what level of reader/user is this source intended? Is it appropriate for a
college/professional level research project?
3. What is the main thesis of the source? (Put this in your words, not the original
author’s.) What is the author trying to prove or say about the subject?
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4. What are the author’s main supporting arguments or points that support that thesis?
5. What part of the argument is the most convincing (to you)?
6. Does any part (or parts) of the argument seem weaker or more questionable to you as
a reader? If so, why? (And every argument tends to have its weak spots.)
7. Does the author use statistics to back up his or her claims? If so, who or what is the
source of those statistics? How believable are the actual statistics themselves? Are the
numbers just thrown at the reader, or are they analyzed and explained in the context
of the overall thesis? Are the statistical arguments/claims backed up with other
evidence or just the statistics?
8. Does the author use any specific examples to support his or her claims? If so, how
believable are those examples? (There have been several cases lately of journalists
being fired for making up examples.). Does the author use the example to support
other evidence, or does he or she use the example as the sole proof that something is
9. Does the author use any primary evidence? (Primary evidence is evidence generated by
the author—such as original experiments, surveys conducted specifically for the
research, original interviews, etc.) If so, is the creation of that primary evidence
explained clearly (how the experiment was conducted, when the interview took place,
what questions were asked of whom in the survey, etc) in the source? Does the author
connect this primary evidence to other sources/evidence or base the argument entirely
on the new information that he or she has generated?
10. What parts do you agree with or see a use for in your paper?
11. What parts do you disagree with? Why? (These can also be useful in a synthesis paper
to set up arguments that you later refute with your other evidence.)
12. How does this source fit in with your overall research? Does this source connect with
and/or support your other sources? Are there ways that the information from this
source can be synthesized with your other sources to build your own argument/thesis
about the overall subject? (That the more sources you read, the more complete this
answer can be; it’s a good idea to revisit this question later in the process after you’ve
read more of your sources.)
H:\21st Century\Work\Sourse Analysis Worksheet Rev. 09.03.doc Adapted from Jim Kosmicki, 9/30/03;8:38 AM 2