Evaluating Sources

Use this page to help determine the credibility of digital sources. Because anyone can publish information, 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 by educators and therefore need no further evaluation.

Author

  • You may need to do some work to find the author; check the home page or an "About" tab
  • Look for a page that provides evidence of the author's expertise (occupation, years of experience, position, education, contact information)

Accuracy

  • Consider the plausibility and validity 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

Sponsorship

  • 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), military (.mil), or network (.net)

Purpose and Audience

  • Determine the site's intent: to inform, to persuade, to entertain
  • Consider the intended audience; opinions and bias should be readily recognized
  • For some assignments (e.g. Oratory) bias can help you understand different perspectives

Publication Date

  • Determine whether you need historical and/or current information
  • Links should be functional

Conclusion

  • Be critical of any information you find and carefully examine each site
  • Web pages are susceptible to both accidental and deliberate alteration, and may move or disappear with no notice
  • Use Citation Tools for all your sources to create an accurate bibliography
  • When in doubt, ask your librarian

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