Evaluating Sources: A Quick Guide
Who wrote it? Where is the information coming from?
Is the author(s) an expert on the topic? Why or why not?
Did the material undergo the “peer review” process before being published/presented? (Or is the material published in a popular source (such as a magazine) or self-published?)
Does the content fit in with what you already know about the topic? Or is it wildly different?
Are statistics or other hard data included?
Are references to other sources included? Do those sources look to be reputable?
Is the author(s) trustworthy?
Does s/he have an agenda? What might it be? (political, religious, etc.)
Does the author use inflammatory language designed to provoke fear or a strong emotional reaction?
Is the author a member of a special-interest group? Is his or her work sponsored by a particular organization? Does s/he receive financial compensation for this work?
Does s/he acknowledge and discuss other viewpoints? Does s/he adequately refute counter-arguments with evidence?
Are photographs or other images included? If so, what kind of message do they send? (Consider camera angle, symbolism, lighting, presentation of subject, etc.)
When was the material created?
Is it timely or outdated?
How does it reflect the time period during which it was created? (What was going on in the society that may have prompted its creation?)
If the material came from the Internet, what can the URL tell you about its content? (.gov, .edu, .com, .org, .net, etc.)
If the material includes a video, was it published/produced by a film company? Was it edited? Or simply uploaded to Youtube or another video-sharing website?
Do you understand what the source is arguing, or is it filled with jargon / technical language that you aren't familiar with?
Does the source truly address what you are researching, or it is only peripherally related?
Can you incorporate the source into your writing in a meaningful way?