Evaluating Sources

Once you have gone an initial search for your topic, it is time to look for research regarding tour topic. You might find scholarly articles, magazine articles, newspapers, podcasts, images, or other sources. How do you evaluate them to make sure they are not only relevant to your research, but accurate and credible? The following are some questions and strategies to help you with this. 

Questions to Ask Yourself

When you have an article in hand, ask yourself some questions: 

  • Who is the intended audience of this article? 
  • What authority does the author have to write on the topic covered? What are their credentials? Where do they work? What else have they written?
  • What is the author's point of view? (or the publication as a whole)? What biases might they have? 
  • Who produced the material and why are they publishing this information? I like to look at the "About" section on a publisher's website!
  • Does this information meet my research needs? If so, why?
  • Is the information provided relevant to my topic? Does article cite their sources?


Note: The above information was taken from the "Evaluating Information" guide from Tufts University Libraries. 


Use the ABC's to review your sources. 

(Author)ity–Who wrote it? Where was it published? Is the author listed along with their credentials? 

Bias–Is the online resource objective, presenting both sides of an issue? Or is the information presented to sway the audience to a particular point of view? Who is the audience--a certain political group, adults, children, researchers? Depending on your purpose for using the web resource, the intended audience needs to be taken into consideration.

Currency/Credibility–Is the website current, providing the 'created' date and 'last updated' information? For example, medical and scientific information usually needs to be current. But currency alone doesn’t verify the credibility of this type of resource. Does the website mention/link to a study or source? Look up the source/study. Do you think it’s being accurately reflected and reported? Are officials being cited? Can you confirm their quotes elsewhere?

Keep in Mind: One or more of the ABCs may be more important in evaluating a website, depending on the information you need. For example, medical and scientific information usually needs to be current. If you are trying to take a stand on an issue, a biased source may be acceptable as long as it is coming from a reliable source (authority).

Note: The above information was taken from the "Evaluating Information" guide from Tufts University Libraries.