How do I know if a source is good?

Being able to find information on your topic doesn’t do you any good unless the source of the information is reliable.

Here are some issues to consider when evaluating a source:


What is this source about?

  • Source contains information you need for your research question. Evaluate the title, abstract, subject headings, table of contents, keywords, and other descriptors.


Who created this?

  • Locate and verify author credentials and any institutional affiliations.
  • Look for affiliated institutions, parent organizations, and funding sources


Why was this created and how does that affect the information?

  • Identify source intention (to inform, persuade, entertain, instruct, sell, etc.) Why something was written helps to identify potential biases.
  • Examine evidence of author bias, such as omitting important and relevant information.
  • Analyze if source is written for scholars, the public, professionals, or students.


When was this source created?

  • Identify the date of publication (This may affect the timeliness of the content).
  • Identify when the research was conducted.