Answering the following questions about a book, article or webpage can help you decide if the source is of sufficient quality to be used for a research project.
Question the author's identity, affiliations, expertise, possible biases & target audience. Does the author or publisher have known political, ideological, cultural, religious, or institutional biases?
Facts, opinions or both? One viewpoint or several? Emotional or objective language? Well organized & carefully proofread, or not? Any references provided?
How recently written or revised? How critical is up-to-date information on the topic?
Applicable to one geographical area only? What's the information source (newspaper, magazine, journal, web site)? Is it reputable?
Why was this document created? Is the purpose to inform, to teach, to convince, to entertain, or to sell?
How does the information compare to other information sources on the same topic? How was the information gathered? How was it reviewed before publication?
PRINTABLE Five W's & One H
Other approaches to evaluating information sources--primarily internet sources--are available from the libraries of many major universities. Consult any of the sources below for further information.