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Evaluating Sources

Use this guide to help you choose the best sources for your projects and papers.

Website Evaluation Checklist

When looking at information online, use these questions to help you determine whether the source is credible:

Who created the web page?

  • Can you tell who wrote or created the content?
  • Is there an "about us" page?
  • Are they an expert on the topic? How can you tell if they're an expert? [Hint: Google their name to see if you can find out anything else.]

When was the web page created?

  • When was the web page created? Or do you know when it was last updated?
  • Was it published recently? Can you tell how old the information is? [Hint: In some fields and for some topics, this is very important.]

Who sponsors the information?

  • Can you tell who funds the web page?
  • What can you tell about the organization sponsoring the information?
  • Do they have any conflicts of interest? [Hint: Google the organization to see if you can find any other information about them.]

Is it relevant?

  • Is the information relevant to your topic or assignment? 
  • What is the purpose of the website or information? Entertainment? Education? Something else?

How to Spot Fake News

A document outlining ways to spot fake news

What is Lateral Reading?

Lateral reading is another technique to help you evaluate websites and other content on the internet. Instead of reading straight down a website, explore the creator and source first to determine if it is a source you want to continue to engage with.

This can help give you a fuller picture of the source you are reading by alerting you to any potential bias or other concerns. Here are a few questions to help guide your lateral reading:

  • Is the author (either a person or organization) well-qualified to write about this topic?
  • Searching for the author or the organization, what do other credible sources have to say about them?
  • When you do a general search on the topic of the original article, are other credible sources also writing about the topic? Is there a difference with how others are covering the topic?

Tutorial: How to Evaluate Digital Sources Using Lateral Reading


Tutorial: Choosing the Best Web Source