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Evaluating sources: What to consider

Criteria to consider when evaluating information for research.

Consider bias

Who is the sponsor or publisher? For example, is the article from a political magazine? Is the magazine liberal/conservative? That may reflect the focus of the article.

What is the intent of the information? If a source included research done on a specific drug, did the drug's manufacturer sponsor or fund the research study?


Library databases (subscriptions - not free)

Content can include articles from magazines, journals, newspapers, reports, books, images, videos, and podcasts.

Content in the databases is evaluated by experts and publishers.

Users still need to examine the information from the databases and consider:

  • date or creation of the source's contents,
  • author's credentials,
  • and who the publisher or producer is.

Most databases will have information about the article's or entry's source as well as an "About" statement pertaining to their product.

Author's credentials

Search library databases, Google, and Google Scholar to identify any other works by the author.

Have others cited works by the author?

Is the author affiliated with an educational institution, business, or organization?

Does the author have a web site? Does the author have expertise on the subject?


Web sites

Can you identify the author or organizer of the information?

Is the author or organizer an authority on the subject?

Is the material up to date?

Is the point of view of the web site evident?

Is the information well written? Are there errors in spelling or grammar?

Are sources included with the information? You may need to check out those sources or links.

Consider using sites that end in .edu or .gov. (Note that .org can be for either nonprofit or profit organizations.)


Free research sites

Example: Google Scholar

Consider what type of content is covered - scholarly and/or popular?

Purpose of the site?

Is content full-text?



Example: YouTube or library database, Academic Online Video (60,000+ streaming videos).

Is the presentation provided or produced by a reputable institution or organization?

Who are the speakers? What is their expertise? (May need to check author's credentials.)

Is date of presentation or video available?