Evaluating Your Sources


All of these characteristics should be considered in evaluating any information source, whether it is a book; a magazine, newspaper or journal article; a government document; a Web page; or an individual. Experience makes this process easier.

Authority

Goal: Find information from knowledgeable sources.

Examples of authority

Specificity/Relevance

Goal: Find sources that specifically address your individual question.

Examples of relevance

Audience

Goal: Find information appropriate for the audience to be addressed.

Examples of audience

Accuracy

Goal: Find accurate, reliable information.

A difficult judgment to make for a new subject. Part of the process will involve comparing one information source on the topic to others.

Examples of accuracy

Currency

Goal: Find information current enough to answer your research question.

Old sources can be fine for an historical question, but not for current events.

Examples of currency

Objectivity

Goal: Find sources to address all sides of an issue. May require multiple sources representing differing viewpoints.

Examples of objectivity

Additional Resources