The internet and search engines like Google and the library’s databases have made it possible to find lots of information on almost any topic, but not all information is created equal. Some searches may lead you to sources that are unreliable, inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise not suited to your information needs.
Before using any information source—either for an academic research assignment or to guide an important “real life” decision—it’s essential to evaluate the credibility and relevance of that source.
How Do I Evaluate My Sources?
What type of source and how do you know? (Ex: encyclopedia entry, letter to the editor, scholarly article, newspaper article, blog post, govt. report, etc.).
Are they identified by name? Do they have relevant experience, training, or other qualifications?
Is the content still relevant?
What organization published this source?
Some publishers are selective about what they publish and they use editors or peer-reviewers to maintain a high standard of credibility. Other sources allow almost anyone to publish without any fact-checking.
Why do you think this was written and published? Are the authors providong facts, sharing opinions, making arguments, etc? Are they trying to be funny?
Is the information in the source based on scientific studies, personal interviews, analysis of collected data, or personal experience—or is it a work of imagination or opinion without supporting evidence? Are there references to other important works, citations of other texts, or a list of sources the author consulted?
How would YOU use this source?