Q. How do I know if a source is credible?

Answer

There are many criteria that can be used to determine whether or not information from a source is credible. Some of the most important criteria are listed below. A handy tool to verify the accuracy and credibility of resources is the PROVEN source evaluation process.

Authority

  1. Does the author or agency that created the information have the credentials, academic background, or experience to write authoritatively about the topic?
    • Authors:
      • Google their name(s)...do they have a degree related to the topic they are addressing?
      • Watch out for people with degrees (MA, MS, PhD) in a field unrelated to what they are writing about. A PhD in English does not qualify someone to give medical advice, for instance.
    • Agencies:

Bias

  1. Is there a reason to believe that the information provided by the author/agency is slanted or designed to persuade the reader? Maybe it only presents part of the whole story?
    • It is acceptable to use biased information as long as you understand it is biased and you acknowledge that in your paper.
    • If you use a biased source, it is a good idea to find opposing information.
    • To find sources on different sides of an issue (pro and con, opposing viewpoints, compare-contrast), see our Comparison Contrast FAQ.
  2. Be aware of your own biases as you consume and use information. 
    • Do your personal opinions change the way you interpret information?
    • Are you open to points of view that are different than your own?
    • Do you choose only sources of information that reflect your personal point of view?

Currency

  1. What is the date of the source? In the case of a website, is there a last-updated date?
  2. Does the date matter?
    • Information in some areas and disciplines changes all the time and/or needs to be up-to-date. For example:
      • Would you want information about cancer treatments from 1980? No!
      • Would you want information about Shakespeare from 1980? Maybe, as Shakespeare's works will not have changed with time. 

Care Taken / Indicators of Quality

  1. Are claims made by the source backed up with documented and cited sources?
    • Can you get to the sources if they are online?
    • Are the sources of high quality?
    • Are the sources balanced or biased?
    • Do the sources really cover what they are supposed to?
  2. Review for correct spelling, grammar, and mechanics. A quality resource will have been carefully reviewed and edited.
  3. Verify the credibility of the publisher

 

Watch the video below for additional information for evaluating websites.

Internet Research: What's Credible? - Video from Films On Demand - will redirect to library database

  • Last Updated Feb 26, 2020
  • Views 97549
  • Answered By Kate Anderson, Business Librarian

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