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7.5.1: Checklist for Evaluating Sources

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    Evaluation Criteria

    1. Authorship & Authority: Who has written and/or sponsored the content

    • Is information provided about the author? What are the author’s credentials—educational background, past writings, or experience?
    • Is the author qualified to write on this topic?
    • Has your instructor mentioned this author?
    • Have you seen the author’s name cited in other sources or bibliographies? Respected authors are cited frequently by other scholars.
    • Is the author associated with a reputable institution or organization?
    • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? For example, .edu or .gov domains are regulated and tend to more often be reliable.
    • Is there an “About Us” page that explains who is behind the site and their affiliations? Can you find third-party information about this organization to determine its reputation?

    2. Currency: The timeliness of the information

    • When was the information published or posted?
    • Has the information been revised or updated?
    • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
    • Are the links functional?

    3. 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)? Make sure the information is not too basic and is a critical source of information appropriate for a college research paper.
    • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use? Make sure the information provided is supported by other credible sources and is not an outlandish, unverifiable source of information.
    • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper? Remember, your instructor will be looking at your reference list to determine the credibility of the sources you used to support your argument.

    4. Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content.

    • Where does the information come from? Is the information supported by evidence? Are there links to or a list of credible references to support the data, facts, arguments, claims?
    • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
    • Can you verify any of the information in another source?
    • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion? Overtly biased tone may mean that the writer is trying to persuade you to believe in his/her agenda.
    • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors? This may indicate carelessness.

    5. Purpose & Objectivity: Why the information was created

    • What is the purpose of the information? Was it created to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
    • Is the information covered fact, opinion, propaganda? Facts can usually be verified; opinions, though they may be based on factual information evolve from the interpretation of facts.
    • What opinions (if any) are expressed by the author?
    • Is the material overtly biased or unbalanced? If the website has an agenda, it may skew the facts or leave out important information in order to persuade you. For example, click-bait articles use sensationalized language to attract your attention in hopes that you will click on it in the search results. These articles are not written to educate but to make money through advertising. The more people click on their articles, the more money they make. Facts and accuracy are not important nor the purpose for the creation of the information.



    The evaluation criteria were modified from CRAAP Test (opens in new window) created by Sarah Blakeslee, of the University of California at Chico's Meriam Library.

    This work is licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.