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Evaluating Sources

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There are many different ways to determine whether or not a website is authoritative, useful for your purposes, or “good.” For each website or resource that you visit, try thoughtfully reflecting on the following questions. You should be able to answer each question in a positive way. Credible websites and those which are most useful to you are authoritative, accurate, objective, current, thorough, and valuable.

How do I know if a website or source is good?

Consider each of the following criteria and ask yourself these questions:


  • Who are the authors of this webpage or who is responsible for it?
  • What gives him, her, or them their authority or expertise on the topic?


  • Do you have reason to believe that the information on this site is accurate?
  • Are the facts documented and/or traceable?


  • What is the author’s point of view?
  • Is there any obvious bias?
  • What is the purpose of the site?


  • When was the information on the page originally written?
  • When was it last updated?
  • Has the site been kept up-to-date?


  • Does this site address the topic you are researching or studying?
  • Is the information basic and simple or is it detailed and scholarly?
  • Regardless of the complexity of the language, is the information substantial and thorough?


  • Was the website or page worth visiting?
  • Does the site offer anything informative, unique, or insightful?
  • Is the site free of errors, misspelled words, and poor grammar?
  • Is the site easy to navigate and understand?

These criteria were adapted from those included on the website “T is for Thinking: The ICYouSee Guide to Critical Thinking” by John R. Henderson, a reference librarian at the Ithaca College Library.

For different, more detailed criteria for determining a source's usefulness and authority, visit