Judging Sources

There is a great deal of information available to you on the Internet. Before you use that information, you need to ask yourself whether or not your sources are trustworthy. These questions can help you judge them:

  • Is the source a primary or secondary source? Facts from a primary or firsthand source are often more trustworthy than secondhand information.
  • Is the source an expert on the subject? An expert is someone who is respected in the field and considered an authority.
  • Is the information complete? Is information presented on all sides of an issue, not just facts that support the author’s opinion?
  • Is the information current? Generally, you want the very latest information.
  • Is the source biased? A biased source is one that favors one side or opinion over the others. Because of this, a biased source is not always a reliable source of information.

Related Web Sites

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Here are a few additional Web sites that might be of assistance to you when you're trying to judge Internet resources.

How to Evaluate a Web Page


This Web page is sponsored by the Colorado State University Libraries. It offers useful advice on what to look for when using Internet sources for research.

Tutorial: Evaluating Internet Sources


This tutorial is sponsored by the Purdue University Libraries. It briefly addresses issues of “Accuracy,” “Authority,” “Objectivity,” “Currency,” and “Coverage,” then asks the user to consider a pair of example sites in each of those categories. Although it might be a little difficult to use at first, this tutorial is quite helpful.

Evaluating Quality on the Net


This paper, prepared by Hope N. Tillman, Director of Libraries at Babson College (Babson Park, Massachusetts), provides a discussion of the range of sources to be found on the Internet, and the value of those sources.