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 Resources may be biased, incomplete, out-of-date, and much more.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?