Criteria for Evaluating Sources
Here are some of the most important criteria or questions to consider when you evaluate any source:
Type of Source: What type of source are you evaluating?
- Is it scholarly or popular?
- If scholarly - is it a book, a book chapter, an essay, a primary research article, a review article, etc?
- If popular - it is a website, a news article, a blog, etc?
Currency: the timeliness of the information
- When was the information published or posted?
- Has the information been revised or updated?
- Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
- Are the links functional?
Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs
- Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
Authority: the source of the information
- Who is the author and/or publisher?
- What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
- What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
- Does the publisher have a reputation for high quality, credible information?
Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content
- Where does the information come from -- are there references given?
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
- Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
- Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
- Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?
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?