Evaluating Sources

Sources of information include books, journals, magazines, newspapers, conference reports, music scores and a variety of other items.

Use the following guidelines when evaluating sources of information:


Questions to ask



When was the information written or made available?

 Check the copyright or publication date. Some subjects require the most recent information available; other subjects may be covered adequately in earlier published materials.


What are the credentials of the author? 
Is the author widely published on this subject?
How has the author made conclusions using personal opinion, interviews, research, experience?
How valid are the conclusions reached? 
Who published or funded the information / writing? 
Has the information been reviewed / edited? 
Is there the possibility of any bias in the writing?

Check the qualifications of the author by doing a general WWW search.
Perform an author search of the journal database for other articles by the same author.
Check for sponsor links in the acknowledgements or journal website.
Check if the journal is peer-reviewed by looking at author guidelines in the journal website or using Ulrichsweb.


Is there sufficient depth to the information presented?
Has the information been abridged (shortened)?
Does the information support other sources or update information already found?
Is the reference list / bibliography appropriate?

Check the reference list for scholarly journal citations.


Is the information verifiable by research, statistics or studies?
Are there any obvious errors in the presentation / content?
Is the information referenced?
Is a reference list / bibliography included?

Check the methodology used. If no methodology is mentioned, question the validity of the results.

Author credentials

Who is the author?
What are the author's credentials on this subject?
Is the author qualified to write on this subject?

 Perform a WWW search on the author's name. He/she may have a personal webpage providing a summary of their research and employment history.