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  • Evaluating Sources: Evaluating Sources

    Evaluating Web Resources

    It's not always easy to determine if information is credible. Use the guidelines below to help find clues about the reliability of resources.

     Currency: the timeliness of the information

    • When was the information published or posted?
    • Has the information been revised or updated?
    • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
    • Are the links functional?

    Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

    • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
    • Who is the intended audience?
    • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
    • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
    • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

     Authority: the source of the information

    • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
    • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
    • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
    • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
    • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
    • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

    examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government),.org (nonprofit organization), or .net (network)

     Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content, and

    • Where does the information come from?
    • Is the information supported by evidence?
    • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
    • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
    • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
    • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

     Purpose: the reason the information exists

    • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
    • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
    • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
    • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
    • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

    From the Meriam Library, California State University, Chico

    For more in-depth information on evaluating websites, see: