Evaluating Sources

Getting Started

Evaluating Sources

When you're gathering information for any reason-- personal or academic-- it's important to consider the purpose, reliability, and appropriate uses of sources you find. This guide introduces some starting points for evaluating information. The "5Ws/1H" tab introduces the use of some standard question types (who, what, when, where, why, and how) for evaluating sources generally. The other tabs each include a video and advice for applying those questions to common types of sources: books, periodical articles, media like newspapers, general websites, and data and statistics. 

Evaluating Sources

Source "Fit"

When you're evaluating a source, keep in mind that you don't need to categorize sources as simply "good" or "bad," "reliable" or "unreliable." You need to evaluate the source's "fit" for your research goals. Is the scope of the information useful? Is it going to provide the right amount of data, interpretation, or theory for your particular project? Every project and goal is different, and will need a different combination of sources. Guidance from your instructor about the number or type of sources you need is based on their assessment of what you'll need to complete the goals they've assigned you.