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Monmouth College Hewes Library

Evaluation Criteria

Evaluating Sources

When conducting research, we encounter information in many places and formats.
It is OUR job to evaluate the information we find to determine:

  • WHAT is the source of the information
  • IF and HOW we should utilize the information

Consider using the criteria for evaluating sources  arrow down  and view a helpful explanation of this process in the World of Information video (below).

Criteria for Evaluating Sources

Ask these questions to evaluate the information and determine IF and HOW you will utilize the information.

Criteria Questions to Ask
1. What is it?
Look at how information is packaged for clues about what it is and how it can be used.
  • Look for physical clues as to the origin of the information.
  • In what medium was the item created and distributed (print, electronic, artifact)?
  • How was the information published (or not)?
  • Is it a piece of a larger entity (chapter, article, webpage from a website)?

2. Authority / Credibility
Determining the author of a source is important in deciding whether information is credible. The author should show some evidence of being knowledgeable, reliable and truthful.

  • Who is the author (person, company, or organization)?
  • Can you describe the author's background (experience, education, knowledge)? 
  • Does the publisher specialize in certain subject areas of knowledge?
  • Does the author provide citations? Do other sources cite this source?

3. Purpose / Intent
Asking why information was created can help determine how (or if) it should be used for research.

  • Is the information fact or opinion?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What is the purpose or motive for the source (educational, commercial, entertainment, promotional, etc.)?
  • Identify possible bias of the author, publisher or sponsor.

4. Accuracy
The source should contain accurate and up-to-date information that can be verified by other sources.

  • Can facts or statistics be verified through another source?
  • How was the data collected? What was the methodology?

5. Scope / Relevance
It is important that the source meets the information needs and requirements of your research assignment.

  • Does the source cover your topic comprehensively or does it cover only one aspect?
  • To what extent does the source answer your research question?
  • Is the source considered popular or scholarly?
6. Currency / Date
Some written works are ageless (e.g., classic literature) while others (e.g., technological news) become outdated quickly. It is important to determine if currency is pertinent to your research.
  • When was the source written and published?
  • Is currency important to your research?
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