Why evaluate sources?
Evaluating sources is an an important part of the research process. The quality of the assignment you complete will depend on the quality of information you use, so you want to make sure you are using high quality sources.
To help you evaluate a source, use these criteria:
Authority: the source of the information
- Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
- Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
- What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
- What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
- Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
- Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness or plausibility of the information
- Where does the information come from?
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Is there a bibliography of consulted sources and/or notes?
- Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs
- Does the information relate to your topic?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
- Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
Purpose: the reason the information exists
- What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
- Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
- Is the information fact? argument? opinion? propaganda?
- Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
- Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?