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ENGL 100 & 105 - How Students Succeed: Source Evaluation

Evaluating Sources for Credibility

The Web is a valuable information source, but for the purposes of academic research, you must select reliable websites. Here are a few questions that can help you determine the reliability of a website and its appropriateness for your research.

  • What is the domain of the website?

Typically, content on domains with “.edu,” “.org” or “.gov” are from more legitimate sources than content from “.com.”

  • What is the purpose of the information?

Make sure the website doesn’t promote a product or an ideology or present an organization bias.

  • Who is the author, publisher, or source? Are they an authority on the subject?

Ask yourself not only “who wrote this?” but “why should I care what s/he writes?” Look for the author’s identity and also any information about their educational background, professional credentials, etc. This information can often be found under an “About Us” link.

  • Does the information relate to your topic? (relevance)

Make sure that the web pages are relevant to your research and contain information that is thorough and substantially covers your subject matter.

  • How current is the information?

Look for the date of publication to ensure that information presented is up-to-date, esp. if currency of information is crucial to your research/academic field.

  • How accurate/truthful is the content?

Compare the web page to related sources, electronic or print, for assistance in determining its accuracy. Look for factual information (historical or statistical), research/fieldwork observations, as well as citations/footnotes and list of references/bibliography.

Web pages to evaluate

Using strategies and tips discussed in class, decide whether the following pages would be good quality sources to use for a college research paper.

Source Examples:

Closing the Achievement Gap
 

The Upside of Income Inequality

Does Spending More on Education Improve Academic Achievement?

When Class Became More Important to a Child's Education Than Race