Library Information Guide - Fort Wayne

Evaluating Sources

Resources you find while researching can contain information from people with varying motivation and expertise. The tabs below will guide you in critically evaluating your sources to ensure that they are appropriate for your use.

Authority/Credibility

  • Who is the author/producer of the information?
  • What expertise do they have on the topic?

Find out by looking for:

  • more information on the homepage of the website or introduction to the magazine/journal
    • Look for an About or Contact page
  • a copyright symbol, ©
    • Look near the bottom of the page, see who claims the copyright to the source
  • information about the author or organization in other resources
    • For example, the Better Business Bureau's website, which has information about businesses and charities

Accuracy

  • If the author did not discover or create the information provided, are trustworthy sources cited?
  • Are there obvious grammar or typing errors? Do the links work?

Find out by looking for errors and citations in the source.

Bias/Objectivity

  • Is the source sponsored or created by an organization that has a particular agenda?
  • Is the purpose of the source to sell, educate, or persuade?
  • Does the author present the information as fact, opinion, or conjecture?
  • Is more than one viewpoint expressed?

Find out by looking at the tone and content of the source, including the About page.

Timeliness

  • Has the source been updated recently?
  • When was the information in the source created?

Find out by looking for dates.

Relevance/Appropriateness

  • Does the source provide information that you need?

Think about how it could support your assignment compared to other sources that you have already found.

SIFT Method

 

When practiced, SIFT helps us learn to read, view, or listen effectively before reading an article or other information online.
  • Learn about the author, speaker, or publisher: What’s their expertise? Their agenda? Their record of fairness or accuracy?
  • Check on claims: Are they broadly accepted? Rejected? Something in-between?
  • Don’t take evidence at face value. Is it presented in its original context, or with a certain frame that changes its meaning for the reader or viewer?

The SIFT Method portion of this guide was adapted from "Check, Please!" (Caulfield). The canonical version of Check, Please! exists at http://lessons.checkplease.cc (CC-BY)