Evaluating Sources

Each resource requires evaluation to determine its authority and appropriateness for your research. Once you've developed and run a good search strategy, you will need to thoroughly evaluate the information you've found.

Some information sources will be more appropriate and reliable than others, so this evaluation is very important. All information should be evaluated according to the following criteria:

Reliability of the source

The quality of information may vary according to the reliability of its source and therefore you must consider: Is the source scholarly and/or peer-reviewed?


Does the focus of the work match your needs?

Is the focus scholarly or popular? Popular magazines such as Time can contain useful information, but it must be verifiable by another source.

Is the work a primary source (data, diaries, original documents etc.), a secondary source (evaluation of previously published material) or a tertiary source (encyclopedia, dictionary etc.)? Each type can be appropriate for Authority.

When was the resource published? Older material is suitable for establishing a historical context but not for information on current issues.

Website specific: When was the site last updated and by whom? Avoid using undated websites.


Who is the author or editor? Are their qualifications, experience, institutional affiliation, and other publications listed?

Can the author be contacted for clarification?

Website specific: Who created the website? Are adequate contact details and/or provenance available for the creator? An email address is not sufficient.


Is the purpose of the writing clearly stated? Is it technical or clinical?

Who is the intended audience?

Is the language free of emotion and bias?

Is the material factual, opinion or propaganda?


Is the information peer reviewed?

Is there supporting evidence for assertions made?

Is the information verifiable?

Is there an accurate bibliography?

How does the work relate to material you have already read?

Does it update, substantiate, or add new information? Explore a variety of opinions.

Are the ideas and arguments similar to other readings on the same topic?

Is the text well written and presented?

You should also be aware of fake news, false or misleading information presented as news. You can learn to spot fake news online with these free tools for fact-checking bogus stories, or look into Why Do Our Brains Love Fake News?

For further assistance,  consult with your School Librarian.