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Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?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?
Meriam Library, California State University, Chico
For more in-depth information on evaluating websites, see: