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Evaluating Information

This guide will give you insights into evaluating books, articles and websites for inclusion in your research.

Teaching & Learning Librarian

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Brianna Buljung

Evaluating Sources for Credibility

In This Guide

How can you tell if you've found high-quality, accurate books, articles and web sites to use in your research?  Use this guide to evaluate everything from scholarly articles to websites.   

covers of materials science journals from Wiley Publishing

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Image Credit: Materials-Science-Journals by The Wiley Asia Blog. Used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Scholarly, Professional, Popular?

Evaluating Sources

What kind of information do you need?  If you are writing for a class assignment, you may be required to use peer-reviewed ("refereed") or scholarly sources.  In any case, you should always look for sources that are authoritative.  For more detailed help with evaluating your sources, see our Evaluating Information Guide.  

Scholarly Checklist--Look for:

  • Authors listed, with credentials
  • Cited references and data, observations, or statistics to support conclusions
  • Reviewed by peers or experts in the subject
  • Purpose is to inform or impart knowledge, not to sell, persuade, entertain
  • Appears impartial--few or no advertisements, no emotional language, unbiased

Authoritative--A source can have authority even if it isn't scholarly.

  • Author and/or publisher is an expert on the subject
  • Author's affiliations and contact information are available

Other Criteria-- these are not definitive, but worthy of consideration:

  • Do you see errors in spelling, grammar, data?
  • Is the publication in turn cited by other credible works published later?
  • How current is the information (no date? be suspicious)?