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Click for Library HomeChecklist for Evaluating Info. Sources
When evaluating all types of information sources-web sites, books, periodical articles, videos, etc.-these are questions that can assist a student researcher in determining the credibility of the source. These questions can also help in deciding whether a source is relevant or appropriate for use in a college research paper or other homework assignment.

Authority

  • Can you locate an author's name or a group name credited on the document?
  • Can you clearly identify the credentials or authority of the author or publisher?
  • Is contact information for the author or publisher provided?
  • Is the author or publisher affiliated with an established publishing house, business, university periodical, or other organization?
  • Does the URL of a web site provide any clues as to the sponsoring group?
  • Is the information supported with a bibliography, works cited page, or footnotes?

Bias

  • Can you detect any political, philosophical, religious, or other bias to the information presented?
  • Are different perspectives presented on the topic or only a single viewpoint?
  • Is the source trying to sell you a product, an idea or a service?

Scope

  • Is there an appropriate amount and depth of information provided to cover the topic?
  • Is the information written to an elementary, average, or advanced level reading audience?
  • Is the information directed toward a general, specialized, or partisan audience?
  • How useful is the information for your topic?

Purpose

  • Is this an opinion article or is it presented as an objective reporting of the facts?
  • What is the point of view or perspective of the author or publisher of the source?

Currency

  • Can you locate when the source was published, posted, last updated, or created?
  • How current or relevant is the information?

Researchers need to be concerned about the authority, accuracy, bias, and currency of all sources they use. If in doubt or confused about a source, discuss it with your instructor or a reference librarian.

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