Evaluating Sources








    Does the work provide sufficient content?

Book: Entire book or complete chapter vs. only a brief mention? Actual book vs. just a review?
Article/Web: How many pages? Is your topic a major focus, or just briefly mentioned?

    Who is the intended audience for the information?

Currency / Timeliness

    Does the work you want to use provide a date created or updated?
    Information posted to the web can sit there indefinitely. Information that was once accurate may no longer be accurate after years have passed.
    Is currency of information important for your topic?
    Does the work contain broken links or cite out-of-date references?

Authority / Credibility

    Who is the author? What are their credentials? Search the source or homepage of a site for information on the author. Search a relevant database to see whether they have published anything in their field. Try Google. Can you find any contact information?
    What organization is responsible for the work/site? What is its background and mission? Look for an “About Us” or FAQ link for more information. If they are not a well established organization of which you are aware, look them up elsewhere.
    Look at the URL. Is the site commercial (.com), non-profit (.org), educational (.edu), governmental (.gov), or a personal page (look for a tilde (~) in the URL) hosted by a larger entity that is not directly responsible for the content?


    Does the work address the specific research question?

Accuracy / Reliability

    Does the work/site look professional? Well organized and formatted? Easy to navigate? Table of contents or search box? Link to the home page? No busy animated graphics?
    Are there any errors – spelling, typographical or broken links?
    Can you verify the information? Are sources clearly cited? Are they quality sources?
    Is research methodology clearly explained? Statistical data organized and labeled?

Bias / Objectivity

    Is the information provided intended to influence your thinking?
    Is the author’s purpose or point of view clearly stated? Can you detect any bias?
    Does the host organization have an agenda (commercial, political or philosophical)?
    Is any advertising distinct from informational content?
    • Biased information is not necessarily without value. Just be sure to understand the bias.


ProQuest Source Evaluation Aid Tool

    Is the journal you are looking at peer reviewed? Is this website known for fake news? Is this book written for a commercial or a scholarly audience? This tool allows you to enter information about a website, periodical (journals & magazines), or book and will return data that will help you assess its value to your research.

ProQuest Source Evaluation Aid Tool