Consider whether or not to use an information source by asking...
- Who/what organization is responsible for this information?
- What are the author's credentials or qualifications? What makes him/her and authority on this subject?
- What is the organization's mission? Do they tell you?
- If you can't find the answers to these questions, you may want to avoid using the source.
- What makes this source of information credible?
- What is the review or editorial process that the information has gone through to ensure accuracy? None? Peer-reviewed? Editorial board?
- Why was this information source created? To Inform or educate? To Persuade? To Sell? To Entertain? To call people to action?
- Is there a potential for bias? Are differing viewpoints presented? In a balanced way?
- Where did the information come from?
- Does the author tell you the source of his/her information? Are sources cited so that you can follow-up and verify them?
- If the source is a brief report on a research finding or event, can you find an original or more complete source of information on which it is based?
- When was the information created/published?
- If dates are given, can you tell what they mean? Published? Revised? First posted?
- Can you determine if the information is current or outdated? Is it important that the information is recent?
- How do you plan to use this information? Do you need an authoritative source? Do you need an objective source? Do you need a testimonial to support a particular argument?
- How in-depth is the information? Does it provide enough detailed information for a college level research paper?