Evaluating Sources - Research Tools - McDonogh School

Evaluating Sources

Use this page to help determine the credibility of sources. Anyone can publish information, therefore source evaluation is crucial. If you can't discover the author and/or sponsoring organization, then the site is likely not credible. McDonogh's Digital Resources have already been evaluated for validity and credibility.


What qualifies the author as informed, knowledgeable, and reliable regarding a specific topic? Use an About or similar tab to find credentials and evidence of the author's expertise (occupation, years of experience, position, education, other works published, and contact information). For print sources, you may need to research the author or content creator online.


  • Consider the plausibility, validity, and comprehensiveness of the information.
  • Information should be corroborated or verifiable by other sources.
  • Sources should contain citations and references (works cited, bibliography, footnotes, etc.).
  • Page(s) should be free of typographical and grammatical errors and should acknowledge and correct factual errors.


  • Determine the sponsor of the site; this is often found on the "About" page
  • The domain name often indicates the type of group hosting the site: commercial (.com), educational (.edu), nonprofit (.org), governmental (.gov), or military (.mil).


  • Determine the site's intent: to inform, to persuade, to entertain, to sell.
  • Consider the intended audience; opinion and bias should be readily discernible.
  • For some assignments (e.g. Oratory), biases (your own and the source's) affect how you interpret and understand perspectives. 


  • Determine whether you need historical and/or current information.
  • Links should be functional; broken links may indicate a lack of site maintenance.
  • Is the site updated regularly?


  • Be critical of the information you find and carefully examine each source, particularly if you are not using McDonogh's Digital Sources.
  • Web pages are susceptible to both accidental and deliberate alteration, and may move or disappear without notice. Note your access date.
  • Use Citation Tools for all your sources to create an accurate bibliography.
  • When in doubt, ask your librarian!