Evaluate Sources

Evaluating Sources of Information

Does your source meet your assignment criteria?

Is it relevant? How do you tell?

  • Skim the content, or read the abstract/summary or table of contents to see if your source addresses your research question.

Does it meet the criteria for acceptable sources?

(Note: Life outside university also requires you to evaluate sources: is the rental law you found for the correct jurisdiction? Are online bus schedules updated often enough to be accurate?)

Is it a credible source of information?

How do you know if an information source is good quality? There's an APP for that!

  • Audience
    • Who is the information intended for – experts, the general public, kids, random conspiracy theorists? 
    • Is the information presented at a level of detail that you can a) understand and b) incorporate into your research paper?
  • Purpose
    • What is the information intended to do - inform you, sell you something, persuade you, rant at you?
    • Think about who would likely gather the information you’re looking for, and why and how they would make that information available.
  • Process
    • How was the information gathered – rumour, reporting, research?
      • Credible sources will provide details on where and how information was gathered (usually in the form of reference lists, citations, or web links). 
    • What steps has the information gone through before being published/shared/posted - spell check, lawyers, editors, peer review?
      • Credible sources will provide evidence of these steps.