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Evaluating Sources: Introduction

Learn tools you can use to evaluate information.

Getting started

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The Basics

We'll show you the simple questions you can ask yourself when assessing any piece of information.


Know how to check for for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose.

Test Yourself

Check your critical thinking with activities and games.


What is evaluating?

Evaluating is a process of assessing the quality of a source. It involves weighing up its relative strengths and weaknesses taking into account factors such as reliability, accuracy, authority, currency, point of view or bias.

Why is evaluating important?

Academic writing is evidence based. We discuss and cite sources to demonstrate knowledge of existing research on the topic and support our arguments with evidence. The standard of evidence is only going to be as good as the standard of the sources we cite, so evaluating sources carefully and applying critical thinking to the literature is essential. 

Evaluative Process 

There are two stages to evaluating sources. The first is to decide whether a source is useful, relevant, and sufficiently reliable. The second stage is to critically appraise the source. This is where we consider the relative strengths and weaknesses of the study, both on its own terms and in the context of a wider body of research. 

This guide will offer advice on evaluating sources and equip you with some useful tools to help along the way.

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Video: Why Can't I Just Google?

Google is a good starting point for research but it's not the best place to find academic literature. This short video explains the reasons why.

Rode Island University Libraries (URILibraries) (2012) Why can't I just Google? 28 August. Available at: (Accessed: 16 June 2023)

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This work in this guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.