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Evaluating Sources: Ask These Questions

Evaluating Sources for Credibility

To evaluate a source you must read and think about it. Questions to ask yourself about a source are listed below. 

Currency 

  • How old is the source? Can you find the date the information was created?
  • How important is currency for your research topic?
  • If the source is a webpage, are there any broken links on the page? If so, that might mean the page is no longer maintained.

Relevancy or Usefulness

  • Does the information you find have anything to do with your topic?
  • What are you trying to accomplish with the information you find? For example, are you writing a research paper, looking for a quick fact or deciding which classes to take? Does the information you find help you do that?
    Why or why not?

Author's Authority

  • Who is responsible for the information? Is it a person? What do you know about that person's qualifications or experience?
  • Is the information produced by an organized group of people such as an advocacy group or government agency? What do you know about that group? 
  • If it's a website, is it a .com, .edu, .gov or other? 

Accuracy

  • Can you identify any errors of fact?
  • Does the page list any sources or clues about where the information came from? Can you verify those sources?

Point of View, Objectivity or Bias

  • Does the person, group or organization have a bias?  What is it?

Purpose

  • What is the source trying to do? Is it trying to inform, entertain or express an opinion?
  • What tone does the author use to accomplish this?  For example, is the tone humorous, sarcastic, concerned, angry, informative, or neutral?

 

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