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Hunter Library
Research Guides
Western Carolina University

English 101 - Cory: Judge Source Credibility

Evaluation Criteria

A scholarly source is written by professionals for other professionals in a field. A credible source can be written/produced by anyone with credentials for any audience. Here are a few questions you can ask to determine if a source is credible or not.

  1. Consider the author and organizational source (for example, the New York Times or Stormfront) responsible for the content. Google the organization/individual/journal and see what the first few hits say about its reputability. Also consider whether the source/host has any financial, political, or other vested interest in the topic at hand. If they do, they may not be a credible source of information. Remember, no source is perfect all of the time, but good sources do still exist.
  2. Go to the original data source. If an article cites facts, studies, or quotes, "swim upstream" to the original author/speaker of the content to make sure it's not being misrepresented or misunderstood.
  3. Get a second (and third, and fourth opinion). If you see a claim or statement that strikes you as questionable or which you're unsure about, Google it to see what other information is out there. It’s fairly easy to support bad science with more bad science, so a source that lists citations isn't necessarily credible for that reason. Make sure you've got the full picture and have considered all sides of an issue.
  4. Watch out for bias and inflammatory language. Always question sources which use emotionally loaded, insulting, or derogatory language. They may be intended to sway your opinion based on emotional appeals, or they may not be considering both sides of a situation adequately.

Source Credibility Assessment Video