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Evaluating Sources

Why Evaluate Information Sources?

Every resource you use needs to be evaluated (whether it be a book, journal article, website, etc.). Resources may be biased, incomplete, out-of-date, and much more. Ask yourself the questions listed below when evaluating a resource. Note: Not all questions apply to every resource type.


Currency The timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links/URLs functioning?

Relevance The importance of the information.

  • Does the information relate to your topic?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before selecting this source?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Authority The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information for the author?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? Ex: .com .edu .org .net

Accuracy The reliability of the information

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed? (Is it scholarly or popular)
  • Can you verify the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose The reason for the information.

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institution or personal biases?

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