It's not always easy to determine if information is credible. Use the guidelines below to help find clues about the reliability of resources.
Currency: the timeliness of the information
- When was the information published or posted?
- Has the information been revised or updated?
- Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
- Are the links functional?
Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs
- Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
- Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
- Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?
Authority: the source of the information
- Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
- Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
- What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
- What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
- Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
- Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government),.org (nonprofit organization), or .net (network)
Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content, and
- Where does the information come from?
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
- Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
- Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
- Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?
Purpose: the reason the information exists
- What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
- Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
- Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
- Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
- Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
From the Meriam Library, California State University, Chico
For more in-depth information on evaluating websites, see: Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask from UC Berkeley - Teaching Library Internet Workshops