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How to Evaluate Information Sources: Critical Questions for Evaluating Your Sources

Critical Questions

Here are some questions to guide you through the process of critical evaluation of information sources:

Authority: Who created the information?

  • Who is the creator/author/source/publisher of the information? What are the author's credentials or affiliations?
  • Is the author's expertise related to the subject? Are they an authority on the topic through education, experience, or expertise in the field?
  • Whose voices/viewpoints are not being heard?

Accuracy: How accurate is the information?

  • Was the information reviewed by others before being published? Does it contain spelling mistakes and grammatical errors?
  • What citations or references support the author's claims?
  • Is it fact or opinion? Do the authors leave out important facts or alternative perspectives?

Argument: What are the author's claims?

  • What is the author's position?
  • What reasons does the author give to support their position?
  • Are there any flaws in the author's logic?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the author's argument or perspective? Why?
  • What is your position on this topic?
  • What evidence (i.e. research) can you provide to support your position?

Self-Awareness: Check yourself

  • Examine your own perspective and ensure you are seeking out information that represents alternative perspectives and worldviews.
  • Ensure you are not seeking or favouring sources that only confirm your existing beliefs (avoid confirmation bias).
  • Get uncomfortable. Read from sources across the spectrum (even if you do not agree with such sources); this will help ensure you are aware of the various sides of a debate/issue.

Relevance: Does the source satisfy your information need?

  • Is the information related to your topic? Does it help you better understand your topic?
  • Is the information at an appropriate depth or level for your assignment?

Timeliness: How current is the information?

  • When was the information created, published or updated?
  • Is it recent enough to be relevant to your topic or discipline? Sometimes you are required to use recently published material; sometimes you must use historical documents.