When writing your papers, it is necessary to evaluate every source (book, article, website, etc...) to ensure it is reliable and authoritative. These are some of the questions you can ask yourself about each source to see if it is indeed authoritative and citable.
Questions to ask as you evaluate sources
These steps are designed to help you determine if a source (journal article, book, website, etc.) is appropriate for use in your research paper.
First off: How do you intend to use this source?
Do you plan to cite this source as reputable information?
Do you plan to critique this source as an example of bias about your topic?
Etc. Your use will determine what answers you hope to get from the following questions.
Who is the author?
What are the author's credentials, educational background, area of expertise, etc.?
Have other scholars cited this author's work?
Did your professor or another expert recommend this author's work?
Why was the source written?
Is the information in it fact, opinion or propaganda?
Does the author want people who read it to take some action? For instance, are you being persuaded to buy something or to vote for something?
Is the author's point of view objective and impartial? Can you detect a bias?
How was it written?
Does the author tell how facts were gathered? Were they gathered from unbiased sources?
Is there any documentation offered, for instance, do you find a bibliography or other "credits"?
Why was it posted or published?
Who is hosting this website or publishing this book or journal?
What do you know about the company or group? Do they have a bias?
Evaluating Sources - CASA Approach
Copyright date/last update date
Up-to-date terminology and facts
Note: The currency standard will differ depending on the discipline.
Qualifications or credentials of the author, editor, contributors
Is the material primary or secondary?
Publisher’s quality/purpose? (Do they publish reputable material?)
Are submissions peer reviewed?
What kind of information is the source intended to convey?
What topics are covered? For what period of time?
How detailed is the source?
How complete is it? Are there any noticeable omissions?
What is the source’s purpose? (What is the author trying to accomplish through the work?)
Does the content seem credible? (well-written, well organized, logically presented)
To what extent does the argument rely on evidence and to what extent does it rely on opinion?
Is the evidence verifiable? (sources clearly attributed or original research methodology explained)
Is the information presented in an objective manner? (All sides of an issue presented; no logical fallacies)
Is the source internally consistent?
How does source fit in with other sources in the field? (Does it reference other reputable/authoritative sources? Does it build upon the contributions of others/current knowledge? Is it compatible with known information or explain why it is not compatible?)