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.
Consider this statement: There is no such thing as a good source or bad source. There are only sources that are good or bad for your research.
Use the 5W questions below to help you learn more about a source and decide whether/ how to use it in your research.
The very first question: How do you plan to use this source?
Who is the author of the source?
What type of source is it? (Primary, secondary, journal article, website, etc.)
Where did you find this article?
Also, Where did the funding come from for this article to be written?
When was the source published?
Why was the source written?
Pull it all together: Using your answers to the above questions, do you still plan to use this source?
Source: Kirsten Hansen, "Do you trust this source?" Project CORA lesson plan.
You can leverage the power of Google to help find reliable information from trusted sources. By adding a site limiter to your search, you can tell Google to only show you results from certain types of websites. It's simple!
If you want to find information from government organizations, add site:.gov to your search. Your results will only include websites with .gov domains. For example, searching for homelessness in Nebraska site:.gov returns results from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, and other government organizations.
If you want to find information from educational organizations like universities, add site:.edu to your search. Your results will only include websites with .edu domains.
You can also do this with whole websites. For example, if you want to quickly find Doane's academic integrity policy, search for academic integrity policy site:doane.edu.