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Evaluating Information Sources Critically: Guide

Evaluating Sources Critically

Before using any piece of information as a source, it should be evaluated critically. Suggested criteria are listed below.


¨   Is the author clearly identified? Are the credentials of the author provided? Is the author qualified to write on the subject?

¨   Is the publisher or sponsoring organization clearly identified? What do the web host and URL indicate (.edu, .org, .gov, .com)?

¨   Is the publisher or sponsoring organization well-known or respected in the field?

¨   Is the article peer reviewed or refereed? This means that it is carefully reviewed for its accuracy and value by a committee of scholars who are experts in the field.

¨   Does the journal use a peer review or referee process for selecting articles?

¨   Is contact information for the publisher or sponsoring organization readily available?


¨  Are there factual errors?

¨  Are sources for factual information listed clearly so that they can be verified?

¨  Are links to supporting external sources provided?


¨   Is opinion clearly distinguished from factual information?

¨   Why did the author write this? Does the author have a vested interest in the issue?

¨   What is the mission of the publisher or sponsoring organization?

¨   Is there advertising present that is related to the information? 


¨   Is the date of publication clearly indicated?

¨   Is the date of publication appropriate for your research needs?

¨   Is this the most current information available?

Breadth, Depth, and Omission

¨   Is the topic covered comprehensively?

¨   Are there aspects of the topic or opposing opinions which are omitted?

¨   Are there additional sources that you should examine to cover the topic more broadly or deeply?

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Reference Desk

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Other Guides to Evaluating Sources

Here is a list of several strategies for evaluating information sources critically.