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Evaluate Resources: Evaluate Resources

A research guide discussing resource evaluation, including URLs and helpful resources.

At a Glance

When you evaluate information, ask yourself:

  1. Author - Who wrote this?  Are they qualified to write this document?
  2. Purpose - Why was the source created?
  3. Source - Whom does the author cite? What is the reputation of the publisher?

Author

Who wrote the page, and can you contact that person?

  • Email address – What comes after the @ sign?
  • Physical address – Real or PO Box?
  • Phone number – Landline or cell phone?

Is this person qualified to write this document?

  • What credentials are listed for the author(s) and the credentials be verified?
  • Is there a reference list? Is the reference list cited correctly?
  • Is the information clearly presented in a professional-looking way?
  • Are there mistakes in spelling or word usage?

Is there an institution or organization responsible for the content?

  • Where is the document hosted? (Check URL)
  • Have you heard of this entity before?
  • Does it correspond to the name of the site?
  • Does the institution have credentials separate from the author?
  • Is the author separate from the webmaster?

Purpose

Why was this source created?

  • Who is paying for the website?  (whois.net)
  • Who is making money off of this document?  How?
  • Is the content biased?
  • Is there advertising on the pages or links to merchant sites?
  • How detailed is the information?
  • What opinions are expressed by the author?
  • Is this site a hoax, satire, fake news, or on a mission against something?

Source

Whom does the author cite?

  • What citation style does the author use?
  • Can you find the sources the author cites?
  • What type of source material does the author cite?

What is the reputation of the publisher?

  • What other types of content does this publisher publish?
  • Is the source self-published?
  • Can you contact the publisher?