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Research Process

Get help with any part of the research process.

To ensure you are including only valid information in your research, evaluate your sources using the criteria below.

Who Do You Trust and Why?

Video created by Oklahoma State University Library

Guides to Evaluating Sources

Criteria for Evaluating & Analyzing Sources

 

Criteria Questions to Ask

Currency

Some written works are ageless (e.g., classic literature) while others (e.g., tech news) become outdated quickly. Determine if currency is pertinent to your research.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance

The source should meet the information needs and requirements of your research assignment.

  • Does the information cover all aspects of your topic, or only one part?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level for your needs (not too basic or advanced)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining that you will use this one?
  • Is the source considered popular or scholarly?

Authority

The author should show some evidence of being knowledgeable, reliable and truthful.

  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information for the author or publisher?
  • Does the author provide citations? Do you think they are reputable?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the source? (.com .org .edu .gov)

Accuracy

The source should contain accurate and up-to-date information that can be verified by other sources.

  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can facts or statistics be verified through another source?
  • Based on your knowledge, does the information seem accurate?
  • Is the language or tone unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling or grammatical errors?

Purpose

Determine the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose or motive for the source (to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade)?
  • Do the authors/publishers make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?