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Evaluating Sources: Home

Use this guide to help you evaluate your sources

Evaluating Sources

There is a lot of information available, however, not all of it is valid, useful, or accurate. Evaluating sources of information that you are considering using is important personally, academically, and
professionally.

Trap Method

The Traap Test: Evaluating Information
Don’t be trapped by sources--learn how to evaluate them!
(adapted from the Meriam Library, California State University, Chico)

Timeliness: The "newness" of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Have there been new versions or editions since this was published?
  • How quickly does new research for this topic come out?
  • Does new research expand upon or replace old information for this topic? 

Relevance: The depth and importance of the information for you

  • Does this source help answer your question? Does only part of it help?
  • Is it covering all aspects of your topic or only parts?
  • How detailed is the information? Is it too basic for your needs? Too advanced?

Authority: The source of the information

  • Who is the author? What can you find about her in the source itself or through a web search?
  • Is the author a professor or other expert? Does she have a degree related to the topic? Has she written on the topic previously?
  • Is the author drawing from her own personal experience?
  • Has the information been reviewed in some way, such as by an editor, fact checker, or through peer review? Was it self-published or posted on a personal site?
Accuracy: The reliability and correctness of the information
  • Where does the information come from?
  • Does the author cite other sources? What does she cite?
  • For websites, did the author provide links to other sources? Do the links still work?
  • For studies, experiments, and other original research, does the author explain the methods she used to find her results?
  • Does the information in this resource agree with other resources you have found and your own personal knowledge?
Purpose: The reason the information was created
  • Why did the author publish this source? Is she looking to inform, teach, advocate, sell, or entertain?
  • Who is the intended audience? Is this designed for general readers or academic readers?
  • What political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, personal or other perspectives does the author have?
  • What perspectives are not included within this resource, especially less privileged perspectives?  
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