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UA Online & Distance Learning

Library services, research tools & tips, and key resources for UA Online and distance education students.

Evaluate Your Sources

When searching online, it's important to carefully evaluate the results. Almost anyone can have a webpage, and information on the web may be may be biased, undocumented, or just plain wrong. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to use a particular source.


  • If sources are cited, are they reliable?
  • How does the information compare with that in other sources on the topic?
  • Can the information be verified by other sources?
  • Is the information free of factual errors?
  • Are there spelling, typographical or grammatical errors?


  • Who are the intended readers?  Who are the authors/creators trying to reach?
  • Are the language, vocabulary, style and tone appropriate for the intended audience?
  • What are the audience demographics? (age, educational level, etc.)
  • Are the authors/creators targeting a particular group or segment of society?


  • Who wrote the information?
  • What are the authors’/ creators’ credentials for this particular topic?
  • Are the authors/creators affiliated with a particular organization or institution?  What does that affiliation suggest about the authors/creators?
  • Is the publisher/sponsor of the source reputable?
  • Are the authors’/creators’ information provided so that you may submit questions or feedback?


  • Is the content current?  Does the date of the information directly affect the accuracy or usefulness of the information?
  • When was the content first uploaded, last modified or updated?  Are there ‘dead’ links within the source?


  • What is the authors’/creators’ point of view?
  • Is the point of view subtle or explicit?
  • Is the information presented as fact or opinion?
  • If opinion, is the opinion supported by credible data or informed argument?
  • Is the information one-sided? Are alternate views represented?
  • Does the point of view effect how you view the information?


  • What is the authors’/creators’ purpose or objective?  To explain, provide new information or news, entertain, persuade or sell?
  • Does the source achieve effectively its purpose?
Source: Web Evaluation, Auburn University Libraries. Reproduced with permission.