Library Guides: FAQ: How do I know if my sources are credible/reliable? (2023)

Short, simple how-to and demos of frequently asked questions about using the Libraries and information resources


UW Libraries has a whole guide, Savvy Info Consumers: Evaluating Information, which discusses different types of sources and how to approach evaluating their credibility/reliability.

What it means for a source to be credible/reliable can vary depending on the context of its use. Generally, a credible or reliable source is one that experts in your subject domain would agree is valid for your purposes. This can vary, so it is best to use one of the source evaluation methods that best fits your needs. Do remember that credibility is contextual!

It is important to critically evaluate sources because using credible/reliable sources makes you a more informed writer. Think about unreliable sources as pollutants to your credibility, if you include unreliable sources in your work, your work could lose credibility as a result.

(Video) How to Know If a Source Is Reliable by Shmoop


There are certain frameworks that information professionals have put together to help people think critically about the information provided.

Some of the methods that UW Libraries suggest are:

5 W Questions (5Ws): This method means thinking critically about each of your sources by answering five questions to determine if the source is credible/reliable. The acceptable answers to these questions will vary depending on your needs. The questions are:

(Video) Credible Source: Five tips to determine if your source is credible

  • Who is the author? (Authority)
  • What is the purpose of the content? (Accuracy)
  • Where is the content from? (Publisher)
  • Why does the source exist? (Purpose and Objectivity)
  • How does this source compare to others? (Determining What’s What)

SMART Check: This method is particularly good at evaluating newspaper sources. Like the 5Ws method it also involves answering critical questions about your source. The criteria are:

  • Source: Who or what is the source?
  • Motive: Why do they say what they do?
  • Authority: Who wrote the story?
  • Review: Is there anything included that jumps out as potentially untrue?
  • Two-Source Test: How does it compare to another source?

CRAAP Test: This method provides you with a set of criteria that make a source more or less credible. The criteria are:

  • Currency: Timeliness of the information
  • Relevance: Importance of the information for your needs
  • Authority: Source of the information
  • Accuracy: Truthfulness and correctness of the information
  • Purpose: Reason the information exists
(Video) Writing Videos for Kids: How to Evaluate Sources for Reliability

Additional Help

If you would like personalized support from UW Libraries on source evaluation you can

  1. Make an appointment with a librarian at the Odegaard Writing and Research Center
  2. Ask Us! Chat with a librarian live or email your question
(Video) How to Know if a Source is Credible and Reliable | Online Sources
(Video) Evaluating Sources for Credibility


How will you determine if the sources of information is reliable in library? ›

That criteria are as follows:
  1. Authority: Who is the author? What are their credentials? ...
  2. Accuracy: Compare the author's information to that which you already know is reliable. ...
  3. Coverage: Is the information relevant to your topic and does it meet your needs? ...
  4. Currency: Is your topic constantly evolving?

What makes a source reliable? ›

A reliable source is one that provides a thorough, well-reasoned theory, argument, discussion, etc. based on strong evidence. Scholarly, peer-reviewed articles or books -written by researchers for students and researchers.

How do you know if a source is reliable quizlet? ›

Terms in this set (5)
  1. Check the qualifications and reputation of the author.
  2. Determine the circumstances in which the author prepared as the Source.
  3. Identify the perspective or bias of the author.
  4. Examine the accuracy and internal consistency.
  5. Check for agreement with other credible sources.

What are the 5 methods of evaluating information? ›

When you use the following 5 important criteria -- Accuracy, Authority, Objectivity, Currency, and Coverage -- wading through the mass of information can be less confusing, and, you can be a better consumer of information.

How do you identify information sources in a library? ›

A library catalog is an organized and searchable collection of records of every item in a library and can be found on the library home page. The catalog will point you to the location of a particular source, or group of sources, that the library owns on your topic.

What are 5 reliable sources? ›

Primary, secondary & tertiary sources
  • original research articles.
  • literary works.
  • podcasts.
  • diaries.
  • census and statistics.
Feb 14, 2023

What are 3 questions that we should ask when evaluating a source? ›

There are four questions to ask when evaluating sources:
  • How well does the source answer the research question?
  • Is the information provided by an expert?
  • Is the source valid?
  • Is there a variety of sources?

Which of the following is an example of reliable source? ›

Some examples of reliable sources would be scholarly or peer-reviewed articles and books, trade or professional articles and books, reputable magazine articles, books, and newspaper articles from well-established papers.

What 3 things make a reliable source? ›

Relevance: Importance of the information for your needs. Authority: Source of the information. Accuracy: Truthfulness and correctness of the information.

What are two factors of a credible argument? ›

In this study, we identify two factors that determine message credibility: argument strength and information quality. Argument strength Argument strength is defined as the extent to which a message receiver views that argument to be convincing or valid in supporting its position [38].

What are the 5 steps to testing the credibility of the source? ›

Examine each information source you locate and assess sources using the following criteria:
  • Timeliness. Your resources need to be recent enough for your topic. ...
  • Authority. Does the information come from an author or organization that has authority to speak on your topic? ...
  • Audience. ...
  • Relevance. ...
  • Perspective.
Jul 6, 2022

Which characteristic indicates that a source of information is credible? ›

Whenever you are looking at a source on the internet, you should check several things to verify that the information is credible. These things include the source's authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, and coverage.

What is a reliable source quizlet? ›

what makes a reliable source? -Reliable organization. -Credible author. -Connected to legitimate school, university, government, museum, or educational resource. -It's up to date.

What is the most common and reliable sources of information? ›

In general, information published by the government is both current and based on reliable research, even if no one author is listed. In general, print publications with authors and listed sources tend to be reliable because they provide sources which readers can verify.

What are the skills in determining accurate information? ›


Look for facts. Cross-reference with other sources for consistency. Determine the reason for writing and publishing the information.

What are four major criteria for evaluating sources? ›

Accuracy, authority, objectivity, currency and coverage are the five basic criteria for evaluating information from any sources.

What is the first thing you should consider when evaluating a source's credibility? ›

It is important to be able to identify which sources are credible. This ability requires an understanding of depth, objectivity, currency, authority, and purpose. Whether or not your source is peer-reviewed, it is still a good idea to evaluate it based on these five factors.

What are the 6 things to consider in evaluating information? ›

Information Literacy 7
  • Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content. ...
  • Authority: The source of the information. ...
  • Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs. ...
  • Currency: The timeliness of the information. ...
  • Purpose: The reason the information exists.

How can I identify relevant information and information sources? ›

Find relevant databases

To know in which databases you can find articles related to your subject, you can ask your professor what sources (journals, databases, etc.) s/he recommends. You can also consult the "Journal & Conference Articles " tab in the Subject Guides produced by the librarians.

How do historians judge the reliability of sources? ›

The first key points historians want to check about a source is whether the source is based on accurate knowledge and understanding. To do this, they might check whether the author was there at the time, whether the author was involved in the event, whether the author understood the overall context.

What makes a source unreliable? ›

Sources are unreliable when (i) the author doesn't have authority to write on the topic, (ii) the source contains plagiarized or uncited information, or (iii) the source contains inaccurate or false information. Unreliable sources can be books, journal articles, newspaper or magazine articles, websites, blogs, etc.

Is .com a reliable source? ›

Websites with .com or . net. are not unreliable, but they should be used with caution. In Google's Advanced Search, you can limit your searches by domain.

What is the difference between a reliable and credible source? ›

Reputable sources (sometimes called reliable sources) rely on the reputation of their publication (ex. newspaper or journal) for having high standards of researching, fact-checking, accountability, and ethical reporting. Credible sources rely on the expertise of the author to know the topic completely.

What are 5 examples of unreliable sources? ›

  • News media.
  • Funeral homes.
  • Scholarly journals.
  • Wikipedia mirrors.
  • Online sources.
  • Self-published books.
  • Who's who scams.
  • Fansites.

What is the best credible source? ›

Credible sources include peer-reviewed journals, government agencies, research think tanks, and professional organizations. Major newspapers and magazines also provide reliable information thanks to their high publishing standards. Reputable news sources require all content to be fact-checked before publication.

Which website is the most reliable source? ›

We've gathered here several news websites with a good reputation.
  • BBC News. BBC News is one of the most trusted sources you can ever find. ...
  • The Economist. ...
  • The Wall Street Journal. ...
  • Google News. ...
  • The Guardian. ...
  • CNN.
Jan 29, 2023

How do you evaluate a source? ›

As you examine each source, it is important to evaluate each source to determine the quality of the information provided within it. Common evaluation criteria include: purpose and intended audience, authority and credibility, accuracy and reliability, currency and timeliness, and objectivity or bias.

How to identify reliable and unreliable sources of information? ›

Reliable sources mention the author's name and information, unreliable sources do not. Having the author's name and information at the end of the article gives credit to the author and can indicate whether they are qualified to write an article about the given topic.

What are three 3 tips to ensure that the website is reliable? ›

6 Tips for Checking if a Website is Reliable
  • Author. Take a look at the individual or organization running the website. ...
  • Keeping Current. When was the last time the site was updated? ...
  • Beyond the Headline. ...
  • Solid Science. ...
  • Audience. ...
  • Ask Questions.

How do we know if data is reliable? ›

Reliability can be estimated by comparing different versions of the same measurement. Validity is harder to assess, but it can be estimated by comparing the results to other relevant data or theory. Methods of estimating reliability and validity are usually split up into different types.

What is more credible and reliable to use primary sources? ›

Primary sources are often considered the most credible in terms of providing evidence for your argument, as they give you direct evidence of what you are researching. However, it's up to you to ensure the information they provide is reliable and accurate.


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