Course Syllabus

Welcome to PRDV010: Evaluating Sources and References

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Student Handbook.

Course Description

Develop a criteria framework for evaluating, analyzing, and rating sources and references for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose.

Course Introduction

This course will help you evaluate the sources and choose the most accurate and credible information for your projects – whether you are writing a research paper as part of an academic program, compiling a report for your business, or writing a journal article for a magazine. You should always evaluate your sources and references for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose. The information you choose will reflect well or poorly on you, since your audience judges whether you are a thorough academic researcher, reliable contract employee, or credible journalist.

We begin our study by exploring the concept of ethos, establishing why ethos is a fundamental part of the research process, and looking at the practical effects of how your target audience views you. In Unit 2, we will review the entire research process to get a big picture of what you can expect and will need to complete your research successfully. In the last two units, we will examine how to assess whether the sources you find are credible. Unit 3 reviews considerations for all types of research, and Unit 4 offers additional considerations for websites in particular.

This course includes the following units:

  • Unit 1: Credibility and Ethos
  • Unit 2: The Research Process
  • Unit 3: How to Evaluate Sources
  • Unit 4: Special Considerations for Evaluating Online Sources

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • describe ethos and its role in research;
  • explain the importance of checking your sources;
  • develop a criteria framework to evaluate, analyze, and rate sources; and
  • explain the special considerations involved in critically evaluating online sources.

Throughout this course, you will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.

Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are readings, lectures, and videos.

All course materials are free to access, and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.

Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.

Tips for Success

PRDV010: Evaluating Sources and References is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or set schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 6 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.

Learning new material can be challenging, so we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context, and will create a refresher that you can use as you study later on.
  • As you work through the materials, take some time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory, and will make you more likely to retain information over time.

Technical Requirements

This course is delivered entirely online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one for free here. Although you can access some of the course without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in.

For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.


This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, are all available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

Last modified: Monday, September 25, 2023, 4:35 PM