Evaluating sources is all about thinking critically not just about the credibility or trustworthiness of the source, but also considering its usefulness to your research need.
Use the 5W questions below to help you learn more about a source and decide whether/ how to use it in your research.
Who is the the creator of the source?
Who wrote or made it? Is there an author or creator listed?
If an author is listed, what is their authority on the topic? Do they have first hand experience with the subject at hand? What are their credentials, educational background, area of expertise, etc.?
What type of source is it?
What kind of resource is this? Is it an advertisement? Newspaper article? Scholarly research article?
Does the content accurately match up with what you already know about this topic?
Are there a bunch of advertisements, either related or unrelated to the topic of the source?
Where did this source come from?
Who is publishing/hosting the source? What newspaper, journal, website etc. is the source from?
Where did the funding come from for this source to be created?
What do other authors or scholars say about the source?
When was the source published?
How up-to-date is the information?
How soon after an event was this published? Sometimes information published immediately after a major event can be inaccurate.
How up-to-date do you need the information to be?
Why was the source written?
What's the purpose of the source? Is it trying to sell you something? Convince you of something? Share facts?
Is the author's point of view objective and impartial? Can you detect a bias?
Does someone benefit from you using the source?
How do you plan to use this source?
Do you plan to cite this source as reputable information?
Do you plan to critique this source as an example of bias about your topic?
Sources: Kirsten Hansen, "Do you trust this source?" Project CORA lesson plan.
Jessica Olin, "Information Literacy as Liberation," Letters to a Young Librarian.
These videos were produced by Newswise.
Introduction to Verifying Online Information
Video Length: 3:13
Investigating the Source
Video Length: 2:44
Find the Original Source
Video Length: 1:33
Look for Trusted Work
Video Length: 4:10