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EN 102 First Year Writing: Evaluating Sources

A course guide for students enrolled in EN102

Tools for Assessing Websites

Credibility Checklist

There is a lot of great information on the Internet, but sometimes its hard to figure out what is usable and what you should leave behind This is because the Internet is a medium that is not regulated by a standard set of publication practices or editorial processes. In fact, the entire spectrum of information types exist on the Internet. This means writers have the responsibility of knowing how to assess the information they find on the Internet using measurements like: 

  • author expertise 
  • publication process 
  • editorial oversight 
  • reputation
  • intent 

All of these variables come into when deciding if a source is appropriate to use in a paper assignment.

Evaluation Criteria

Assessing a Source

rubric displaying information about different types of sources and their value to the research question "How do Katniss Everdeen's actions mimic real-life activists like Malala Yousafzai"

Useful questions to ask when assessing a source:

  • Who is the author? What is their authority to write on this subject? Is the author an expert on the topic? (education, credentials, work experience)

  • Are there citations (footnotes, endnotes, etc.) and/or a bibliography? If it is an online source, are there hyperlinks that take you to the original information sources?

  • What is the purpose of the resource? Is it to inform readers, to report on a scholar’s research project or to persuade them of a certain viewpoint?

  • Is the source biased? In what way? Do you think the author has an agenda? Or the publisher?

  • How current or up-to-date is the source? Look for a publication date. How does the currency affect your research topic?

  • What kind of Publication Process did the source go through? Do you think it was peer-reviewed?

  • Do you think that this source is popular or scholarly? Why?

  • Would this source/information be appropriate to use in your paper? If not, then where or when would it be appropriate to use?