Evaluating Sources: Evaluation Guidelines

Evaluation Criteria: Not a Checklist

Evaluation Guidelines

The following are some good guidelines for recognizing what type of source (scholarly, popular, political, etc.) you are reading and for evaluating its relevance and usefulness to your topic and your research process in general. Rather than used as a checklist, these points are considerations to make and questions to ask when evaluating a source or piece of information.

Remember that the information need and information source context can inform how you evaluate.

  • Audience - Who is this written for? What do the style and publication type tell you about the intended audience?

  • Author - Who wrote the information? The author's authority is dependent upon information presented and format used. What are their credentials and professional affiliations? Authority is not always tied to credentials and degrees. If there isn't an author listed, is the information authored by a government, corporate, or non-profit agency?

  • Perspective/bias - Is the information provided as fact or opinion? Is there a missing point of view from a particular group or identity? What kind of evidence is provided? Is the information consistent with information from other sources?

  • Credibility - What gives the author license to write about this topic?

  • Date - Is the date appropriate for your area of study?

  • Publication details - What kind of publication is it, e.g. scholarly article, blog, newspaper? What are the limitations of that type of publication?

  • Relevance - Is the source related to you topic and does it support your research? What are your biases or assumptions on this subject and your expectations for the source? Does the source provide information that supports or challenges your point of view? Does it verify information from other sources you're using?

Adapted from Evaluation Criteria | Western Libraries. https://library.wwu.edu/lit/finding-evaluating-sources/evaluating-sources/evaluation-criteria. Accessed 12 Mar. 2019 and Nesvig, Chelsea. Library Guides: Evaluating Sources: How Do I Tell If This Is a Good Source? //guides.lib.uw.edu/bothell/evaluatingsources/howtotell. Accessed 12 Mar. 2019.