Evaluating a source by accuracy means that you are asking: Is the information provided correct?
When considering accuracy, ask yourself the following questions:
- Has the source been edited or peer-reviewed?
- Has the author supplied a list of references for their work? Does the list of references include scholarly sources?
- Is the information provided verifiable? What does this source offer compared to other sources?
- Is the language or tone opinion based or does it contain facts and statistics?
- Does the source include spelling or grammatical errors? Is the source logical, well organized, and professional in appearance?
- Is the information crowd-sourced or vulnerable to changes by other authors or non-experts (e.g. Wikipedia or another public wiki)?
Where should you look to determine the accuracy of a source?
Print & Database Sources
- Read the source's reference list (if available)
- Find out more about the publisher, journal, etc. via their websites, information provided with the source, etc.
- Examine source in full text (PDF or original print is preferable) for errors, organization, opinions, etc.
- If using an article or blog on a website, read the reference list (if available)
- Look at the "About Us" section of the website to find out more about the website's author(s), affiliations, submission and editorial process, etc.
- Examine the website and web pages you will be using for errors, organization, opinions, etc.
What to avoid
- Sources that have no reference list and/or that have not gone through any type of editorial or peer-review process (unless you are seeking non-scholarly materials)
- Sources with a lot of grammatical or spelling errors
- Sources that are vulnerable to changes by other authors or non-experts (e.g. Wikipedia)