Evaluating Sources Checklist

The Author

Personal Author: Who wrote this work?  What are her/his qualifications?

  • Lots of articles in the same publication on a wide variety of unrelated topics may indicate that the person is a staff writer, and not an expert in the area.
  • Read the author information on the book jacket and note the writer's institutional affiliation in articles. Find biographical information about the author using Biography in Context or searching the author's institutional web site.

Corporate/Organization Author: Who is the group that authored this work?

The Publisher

  • What type of press are they: Academic? Commercial? Professional/Scholarly Organization? Vanity?
  • Does the publisher use a peer-review process for accepting items for publication?
    • Look for the Refereed symbol in Ulrich's Periodicals Directory
    • Find the author guidelines on the publisher's website to see whether it explains the review process.
  • Find out more about a publisher by using the following sources:

The Evidence and Organization

  • Does the work have a bibliography? Does it seem comprehensive or just a selected list?
  • Does the author cite sources within the text to provide evidence? How reliable and authoritative are these sources?
  • Does the work have a table of contents and index?

The Reputation or Contribution to the Field

  • How has this work, or other works by this author, been received by others in the field?
  • For books, read book reviews. Learn more about finding book reviews.
  • Have others cited this work? Look for "cited by" or "times cited" links in the databases you are searching or do a cited reference search in Web of Science to see who has cited the work.

The Publication Date

If your topic is very current or new developments happen frequently:

  • Is the information current enough for the topic?
  • Are the cited references current?