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Research Basics

How do I know if a source is credible?

How do I know if a source is credible?

Look for:

1. An author who is an expert or a well-respected publisher (such as the NY Times or Wall Street Journal).

2. Citations for sources used.

3. Up-to-date information for your topic.

4. Unbiased analysis of the topic (i.e. author examines more than one perspective on the issue).


For more assistance in determining credibility, check out these resources:

Should I use this resource? Evaluation Reminders and strategies. Very few resources are 100% good or 100% bad; most are somewhere in between. Research question: How can I make sure I use quality information if so many resources have a weakness or two? Research solutions for evaluation weaknesses. Weakness number 1, source isn’t very current; solution, make sure the other resources you use are current. Weakness number 2, author isn’t an expert; solution, back up your facts with other sources written by experts. Weakness number 3, the resource is biased; solution, find biased resources from a various perspectives so that you examine ALL sides of the issue. Important point! While most resources will have a weakness, consider your sources collectively. With all of your sources combined, you wan to have Yeses in each category on your checklist. Research question: what if I have trouble finding answers to some of the Pause questions? Evaluation tips and tricks. If no date is listed for the source, check the dates listed for the sources in the bibliography (if provided) or dates of statistics mentioned in the text. If a source doesn’t provide the author’s credentials, Google them! You can learn a lot about an author by simply searching for them online. If a source was published by an organization you’re unfamiliar with, Google it! Most organization websites have an About section which provides details about their work and any biases they might have. Final notes: evaluating resources is not an exact science. It requires judgment and gets easier with practice. Evaluation takes time. Give yourself enough time to find the best resources. If you need help, ask! Librarians and your professor are available for assistance.