How To Evaluate Sources

When doing research, it is extremely important to evaluate sources for accuracy and appropriateness for your assignment. Many sources of information, especially those found on the internet, may be inaccurate or contain certain biases. Use the information below to help you through this process, or ask a librarian!

Evaluating Sources

Note the type of publication

  • Scholarly and authoritative sources (scholarly journals) are generally the most reliable. These sources are written by people who have credentials in the field in which you are researching.
  • Scholarly sources are usually peer reviewed (refereed). This means they are evaluated or critiqued by researchers and experts before publication.
  • Other sources (websites, newspapers, magazines) may also be reliable, but can be more difficult to determine accuracy.

Check the author's credentials

  • Look at past publications, work history, education background, and any professional associations the author might belong to.
  • Sometimes, this information is summarized within an article.
  • Note any potential bias the author might have.

Check the publication date and/or edition number

  • Is the source current or out of date?
  • Has the source been revised or republished?

Is the information accurate?

  • Does the author cite sources?
  • Are there obvious errors in spelling or punctuation?
  • Can you verify the information in another reliable source?

More Information

UWBC Online Research Guide - Click on the Evaluating Sources tab

"Is this a good source or not?" (PDF) - How to evaluate sources and identify reliable information

Scholarly Journals vs. Magazines (PDF) - An easy-to-read chart illustrating the differences between various types of periodicals