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ECHD 240: Child and Family Wellness: Source Evaluation

Why Evaluate Sources?

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 Some searches may lead you to sources that are unreliable, inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise not suited to your information needs.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.

Evaluate Sources Like A Journalist

How Do I Evaluate My Sources?

WhatWhat is the source?

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.).

Who:  Who is the author/creator of this information?

Are they identified by name? Do they have relevant experience, training, or other qualifications?

WhenWhen was this source created and published?

Is the content still relevant? 


WhereWhere did you find this information?

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.


WhyWhy was this information published?

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? 


HowHow was the information gathered and how is it organized and presented?

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?