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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

Techniques for Evaluating & Analyzing Sources

Lateral Reading

Lateral reading is a great way to choose reliable and trustworthy online resources.

With lateral reading, don’t take what a website says about itself at face value.  Check to see what others say about the site by opening new tabs in your internet browser and using them to search for more information about the website. Fact checkers use lateral reading to quickly check a website for reliability.

Watch John Green explain lateral reading in this Crash Course video.



Criteria Checklists

Checklists are a good way to further analyze an online resource once you verify it’s a reliable source.

Checklists are also great for analyzing and choosing the best research articles from library databases, scholarly books, or other resources that you already know are reliable.

Use criteria lists to dig deeply into a website, article, or other resource and analyze the information in-depth.

Criteria Questions to Ask


Some written works are ageless (e.g., classic literature) while others (e.g., tech news) become outdated quickly.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?


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?


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)


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?


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?