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The Pursuit of Peace, Gov 1030: Evaluation

Tips for Evaluating Sources

Not all resources, books, articles, websites, videos, etc., are appropriate for all research projects. When searching for sources and/or choosing sources, these are some things to keep in mind.

  • Authority: What are the authors' qualifications? With what organizations are they affiliated? Are they writing in their field of expertise or jurisdiction? Has the work been cited by others? Is the publisher or sponsor commercial, an educational institution, the government, or a non-profit organization? Is the publisher or sponsor reputable?
  • Objectivity: Are there signs of bias and/or subjectivity? Are alternative or opposing views or arguments represented fairly? 
  • Purpose: What is the purpose, to inform or persuade?
  • Accuracy: Are the arguments or assertions believable? Are they backed up with credible evidence and citations? Has the content been reviewed or refereed?
  • Intended Audience: Is the content directed at a particular audience (general public, practitioners, scholars, technical audience, children)? If so, is it presented at an appropriate level for your needs?
  • Coverage: Is the material original? Is it a brief summary or an in-depth report? Is it complete? What time period is covered? When was the content written? Is the bibliography up-to-date?
  • Relevance: Does the information provide an answer to the question or a path to an answer?

Special Considerations for Websites

  • Do many other sites link to the page or the website? (Google Search on: link:[URL], e.g.
  • Who owns the website? (You can use ICANN's Registration data lookup tool to look up who owns the domain. For .edu domains only, you can also use Whois Lookup from EDUCAUSE. Check the address to determine whether it looks legitimate.)
  • Permanence: Is the information likely to stay online for a reasonable amount of time?


Based on criteria by Karen Jung, Bowdoin College Library, and the CRAAP test from California State University, Chico.