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Since anyone can publish online, you simply cannot believe everything that you read. In addition, different types of publications are intended for different audiences and different purposes. When you are doing research, it is important to critically evaluate each source to determine who is publishing it, what is the purpose of the publication, and whether or not it includes accurate information.
Video: Evaluating Sources
Questions you should ask of every source you find
- What is the publication/creation date?
- Does this time period meet your information need?
- When was the last update?
- Are all the links up-to-date ( for web resources)?
- Who is the author? What are her/his credentials?
- Has the author been cited in other sources?
- Who is publishing this information (individual, non-profit organization, commercial entity)?
- Do other sources contain the same information?
- Is evidence given to support the information?
- Are other sources cited?
- Is the site edited, or does it contain typographical errors (for web resources)?
- Who is the intended audience (students, researchers, trades people, children, adults)?
- Is this source appropriate for your needs and understanding of the topic?
Point of View (Bias)
- Does the source present the information from a particular bias or single viewpoint?
- Does the source contain assumptions not backed by research?
- Does the sponsoring organization or site have a stake in how information is presented?
- Does the information contain advertising?