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Research Help: Evaluate Sources

A guide to information literacy

Evaluating Sources

Information is increasingly available at our fingertips. The World Wide Web and social media offer us information and data from all over the world almost instantaneously. But where does this information come from? The volume of information we have available makes it especially important to develop the skills to evaluate that information. When you use library resources for your research, you will know that each item has been evaluated by scholars and publishers, and selected by librarians. A lot of great information can be found online, but use these tools to help you better evaluate its value and select the best information for personal and academic use.

What is Peer Review?

Peer review is the process by which academic writing (such as an article or a research proposal) is assessed by a group of professionals in the same field before it can be published or accepted.  

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Web Site Evaluation

Evaluating Web Sources: The Basics


  • Who is the author?
  • Is the author listed?
  • Are the author’s qualifications to write on the subject given?
  • Is the site sponsored by a particular organization?


  • Can the information be verified?
  • Can you verify statistics?
  • Does the author cite other works?
  • Are there spelling and grammar mistakes?


  • Whose side are they on?
  • Is there a sponsor for this site?
  • Are inflammatory words used to influence your ideas?
  • If there is an “About Us” link, does it tell you the aim of the Web site directly?


  • How old is the information?
  • Does the site have a copyright date?
  • Is the site updated frequently?
  • Are there any dead links?


What are Periodicals?

The word periodicals includes newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, and trade publications.  They are similar to books in that each goes through some level of screening process by their editors or publishers.  

Periodicals vary highly in quality and level of editorial review.

Primary and Secondary Sources

Evaluating Web Sources