Evaluating Sources

Consider the following criteria to evaluate your sources. 

  • Currency: Is the publication date appropriate for your topic?
  • Relevance: Who is the intended audience and does the information help answer your question?
  • Authority: Do the author credentials, organizational affiliation, and publisher indicate expertise?
  • Accuracy: Is the information reliable and supported by evidence or peer-review?
  • Purpose: Does the information exist as fact, opinion, propaganda, or bias?
  • More tips on source evaluation:


What do "peer-reviewed" and "scholarly" mean in terms of articles?

  • Peer-reviewed articles are approved by other scholars through a specific process: Authors submit their articles to a peer-reviewed journal and then the journal editor sends it to other experts in the field to review the article and provide feedback to the editor. The peer-reviewers and editor may decide the article does not meet standards for publication, or they might ask the authors to make revisions. If the article eventually meets all standards it will be published in the journal. Peer review is the "gold standard" of scholarly publishing.