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Choosing Credible Sources

Choosing Credible Sources

Author: Ms. K
  1. Explain what can be considered credible, consistent sources by showing learners what to look for in sources (e.g. sufficient depth, relevance, authority etc.).

  2. Give examples of sources that might not be considered credible (e.g. Wikipedia).

This packet should help a learner seeking to understand how to conduct research for a paper and who is confused about how to choose credible sources. It will explain the difference between reliable and unreliable sources.

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What to Look for in a Credible Source

AUTHORITY - Authority reveals that the person, institution or agency responsible for a site has the qualifications and knowledge to do so.

  • Is it clear who developed the site?                  
  • Has the author clearly provided all contact information including: e-mail address, snail mail address, phone number, and fax number?                         
  • Has the author clearly stated their qualifications, credentials, or provided some personal background information, that gives them the authority to present the information on the site?                         
  • Is the site supported by an organization or a commercial body?              


PURPOSE - The author should be clear about the purpose of the information presented in the site. Some sites are meant to inform, persuade, state an opinion, entertain, or parody something or someone.

  • Note the purpose of the site. Does the content support it?                         
  • Does the domain name of the site indicate its purpose?                         
  • Is the site well-organized and focused?                         
  • Are the links appropriate for the topic of the site?                         
  • Are the links evaluated at all?                         


COVERAGE - It is often difficult to assess the extent of coverage since the depth in a site, through the use of links, can be infinite. One author may claim to present comprehensive coverage of a topic while another may cover just one aspect of a topic.

  • Does the site claim to be comprehensive?                         
  • Are the topics explored in depth?                         
  • Is the web site valuable compared to others on the same topic?                         
  • Does the site have relevant outside links?                  


CURRENCY - The currency of the site refers to: 1) how current the information presented is, and 2) how often the site is updated or maintained. It is important to know when a site was created, when it was last updated, and if all of the links are current.

  • Is the date the information was first written given?                         
  • Is the date the information was placed on the web given?                         
  • Is the date the information was last revised given?                         
  • Are the links up-to-date and reliable?                         
  • Is the information timeless rather than trend-related so that its usefulness is not limited to a certain time period?                         
  • Is the site fully developed?                         


OBJECTIVITY - The objectivity of the site should be clear. Beware of sites that contain a certain bias. Objective sites will present information with a minimum of bias, without the intention to persuade.

  • Is the information presented without a particular bias?                         
  • Does the information avoid trying to sway the audience?                         
  • Does the site avoid trying to persuade or sell something?          


ACCURACY - There are few standards available on the web to verify the accuracy of information. It is the responsibility of the reader to beware of the information presented. Be sure to differentiate fact from opinion.

  • Is the information reliable? If the author is affiliated with a known institution, this could be a clue.                         
  • If statistics and other factual information are presented, are proper references given for the origin of the information?                         
  • From the reading you have already done on the subject does the information on the site seem accurate?                         
  • Is the information provided comparable to other sites on the same topic?                         
  • Does the text follow basic rules of grammar, spelling and composition?                         
  • Is a bibliography or reference list included?                         

Evaluating Web Sources

Source: Made by Ms. K

Sources (Probably) Not Worth Using

When writing a research-based essay, look carefully at the sources you want to use and be sure that none of them can be edited by anyone, are biased, or are just silly.

Source: Made by Ms. K using