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Source Evaluation

Suggestions for finding credible research for your papers

Source Evaluation

Evaluating Sources

Investigate the Source

  • Look at the name of the site.
  • What do other sites have to say about the site in question?

Read About the Source

  • Most reputable sites have an "About Us" page.
  • Take time to read it.
  • Check for grammar and spelling errors.

Pay Attention to the URL

  • A number of sites use URLs that attempt to appear like well-known organizations.
  • Upon closer examination, you'll see slight differences.
  • Search for the real site and see if the site you are evaluating shows up.

Look at the Page Itself

  • Does it look like the page of a professional, reputable news organization or scientific organization providing research?
  • Is other research or news covered?
  • Is there a large, diverse history of additional stories covered by the site?

Does the Site "Cherry-Pick" Facts?

  • Does the site ignore facts that don't support their favored positions?
  • Reputable sites present reliable information on multiple perspectives.

Fact vs. Opinion

  • Does the site make a clear distinction between stories based on verifiable fact and opinion-based editorials?

Are There a Lot of Pop-up and Banner Ads?

  • Do you see many pop-ups or banners?
  • This could indicate the site is really just a home for "clickbait". 
  • (Clickbait is content designed to attract you and make you click on a particular page.)

Who Is Providing the Information and Why?

  • Who is responsible for the site?
  • Why does the site exist?
  • Is it merely "clickbait" to provide income for the site?


  • Are sources for the story listed in the article?
  • Can you find other reputable sources covering the story?

Is the Story Designed to Excite You?

  • Journalists and scholarly researchers usually do not make a call to action when writing an article.
  • In a professional article or news story, you are given the facts.

Thanks to Western Michigan University librarians Dianna Sachs and Maria Perez-Stable for their LibGuide on Media Literacy which provided this content.

Use the CRAAP test to help evaluate your sources

Stacy Anderson

Stacy Anderson's picture
Stacy Anderson