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When looking at a source, evaluate it using criteria such as:
Purpose & Audience
- Who is the source designed for?
- Is the source scholarly or popular?
- Are there advertisements on the source?
- What is the overall purpose of the source?
Authority & Credibility
- Can the author of the source be identified?
- What are the author's qualifications?
- Is the source affiliated with a particular organization?
- If a website, what is the domain of the source? (.edu, .gov, .org, .com)?
- Do you think the author has expertise on the subject?
Accuracy & Reliability
- Does the source appear to be well-researched?
- Are there references for the information supporting the source's statements or viewpoints?
- Does the source include grammatical, spelling, or typographical errors?
- How does the source compare to library resources available on the topic?
Currency & Timeliness
- When was this information published?
- If a website, does the page indicate when it was most recently updated?
- If a website, are there dead links on the page?
Objectivity or Bias
- Does the source present many opinions or just one?
- Can you tell if the source presents mostly opinions or facts?
- Can you identify any bias in the information presented?
- Is the source sponsored by a company or organization?
- If there are advertisements, are they easy to distinguish from the informational content?
Structure & Organization
- Is the source well organized?
- If a website, is it easy to navigate between different pages?
- Does the source have an index or table of contents? If a website, does the site offer a search box?
Finally, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this source a reliable, well-documented information source provided by a reputable author or organization?
- Would this be a good source of information for my assignment?
Evaluating Sources (Infographic)
(Image from the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity.)