The following criteria will assist you in evaluating information, whether it is in a book, article, or website. Remember, you are your own final authority when it comes to finding reliable information.
- Timeliness – the “newness” of the information
- Relevance – the depth and importance of the information for you
- Authority – the source of the information
- Accuracy – the reliability and correctness of the information
- Purpose – the reason the information was created
Timeliness: The "newness" of the information
- When was the information published or posted?
- Have there been new versions or editions since this was published?
- How quickly does new research for this topic come out?
- Does new research expand upon or replace old information for this topic?
Relevance: The depth and importance of the information for you
- Does this source help answer your question? Does only part of it help?
- Is it covering all aspects of your topic or only parts?
- How detailed is the information? Is it too basic for your needs? Too advanced?
Authority: The source of the information
Accuracy: The reliability and correctness of the information
- Where does the information come from?
- Does the author cite other sources? What does she cite?
- For websites, did the author provide links to other sources? Do the links still work?
- For studies, experiments, and other original research, does the author explain the method she used to find her results?
- Does the information in this resource agree with other resources you have found and your own personal knowledge?
Purpose: The reason the information was created
- Why did the author publish this source? Is she looking to inform, teach, advocate, sell, or entertain?
- Who is the intended audience? Is this designed for general readers or academic readers?
- What political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, personal or other perspectives does the author have?
- What perspectives are not included within this resource, especially less privileged perspectives?
Learn more about evaluating sources at libguides.heidelberg.edu/eval.