Unfortunately there is no simple checklist to consult to see if a source is credible or reliable. As with all information resources, the usefulness of the information may depend on what was needed in the first place.
Consider asking yourself some of these questions when evaluating a source:
- To inform? Persuade? Entertain? Teach? Give an overview? Analyze?
(who written for?)
- General/popular; students; scholars or researchers; professionals
- This greatly depends on your topic and your purpose. Some topics, such as in the sciences, require very current information. Other subjects, such as social issues or history, value the issues in older material, also.
- Does this date influence your use of the material? Why or why not?
- Is the author an expert in this field? What are their credentials? Is the publisher known for quality and/or scholarly publications?
- Is the information valid and well-researched?
- Are main points logically-argued and supported by verifiable evidence (e.g. bibliography)?
- Are the facts & arguments corroborated by other readings you’ve done on the topic?
- Does the author exhibit a particular bias, or is the point of view objective and impartial?
- Does the author acknowledge a bias and present other points of view?
Quality of Information/Credibility
(as related to the information need)
- Does this source provide you with high-quality, credible information?
- Update other sources?
- Clearly written & logically organized? Correct grammar?
- Cover your topic in depth, partially, or at a shallow level?
- Corroborate other materials or add new information?
- Add to the diversity of sources needed for strong research?
- Is this source useful in any way to your information need?
- Why or why not?
- Support an argument
- Show the other sides of an issue
- Give examples (surveys, stats, case studies, research findings)
- Provide context for your topic (historical, social, economic)