Chat with a Librarian

Chat Hours

Monday-Thursday

10am-4pm;
5pm-9pm
 CT

Friday 10am-4pm CT
Saturday 11am-3pm CT
Sunday 5pm-9pm CT

Chat Expectations and Guidelines

Submit a Question

Submit Your Question
Your Info
Fields marked with * are required.

Answered By: Kate Anderson, Business Librarian
Last Updated: Jan 17, 2017     Views: 3405

There are many criteria that can/should be used to determine whether or not information from a source is credible. Some of the most important criteria are listed below. You can also learn a lot about the site by "reading" its web address or url.

    1. Authority
      1. Does the author or agency that created the information have the credentials, academic background, or experience to talk authoritatively about the topic?
        1. Authors:
          1. Google their name...do they have a college degree related to the topic they are addressing?
          2. Watch our for people with degrees (MA, MS, PhD) in a field unrelated to what they are talking about. A PhD in English does not qualify someone to give medical advice, for instance.
        2. Agencies:
          1. Google their name...do they have a good reputation in the field they are addressing?
          2. Are they really taking responsiblity for a given website? Sometimes unversity web pages are "official" and sometimes they belong solely to students or staff or faculty. To learn how to tell the difference, visit our "How can I "read" a URL or website address?" answer.
    2. Bias
      1. Is there a reason to believe that the information provided by the author/agency is slanted or designed to persuade you? Maybe it only presents part of the whole story?
        1. It is OK to use biased information as long as you know it is biased and you acknowledge that in your paper.
        2. If you do use a biased source, it is often a good idea to find information from a source that is equally biased, but in the opposite way.
        3. To find sources on different sides of an issue (pro and con, opposing viewpoints, compare-contrast), see our Comparison Contrast LibAnswer.
    3. Currency
      1. How new or old is the information on the web page? Is there a last-updated date?
      2. Does the date matter?
        1. Information in some areas and disciplines changes all the time and/or needs to be up-to-date.
        2. Would you want information about cancer treatments from 1980? No!
        3. Would you want information about Shakespeare from 1980? Well, that doesn't matter so much.
    4. Care Taken / Indicators of Quality
      1. Are any claims made by the website backed up with documented and cited sources?
        1. Can you get to the sources if they are online?
        2. Are the sources of high quality?
        3. Are they sources balanced or biased?
        4. Do the sources really cover what they are supposed to?
      2. Spelling. Grammar. Mechanics.

To view a video on locating quality websites via Google Click here

See also: What is a good way to find information about the authority or qualifications of an author?

See also: Where would I look to find publisher information for a book?