To successfully choose a source you should be able to examine an online source and evaluate it to determine if it is appropriate for your topic.
There are some standard criteria you can use to help you determine if a source is really something you would feel confident in using for your finished research project. Remember ALL information must be evaluated but the evaluation process is even more critical for information you find using the World Wide Web. Anyone can publish on the internet. There is no editor, editorial board, peer reviewed process for the "free", "visible" WWW available to anyone who has a computer and an Internet service provider. Therefore, it is critical you be aware of the basic criteria for evaluating all information plus some additional criteria that should be considered for Web information sources.
There is a vast amount of information available from a wide variety of sources. As a scholar you should be able to choose which information best and most reliably helps you answer your research questions.
Any source or information you find must be evaluated, but if you find anything on the internet you must be even more critical. Anyone can publish online.
Don’t waste your time with information you can’t trust. Use this fast, easy way to evaluate information.
A is for Author
Sometimes it’s not easy to find author credentials. But if credibility is essential, take time to learn about the author.
Credentials can include: education, expertise, reputation, and other works by the author
S is for Sources
If there aren’t any sources, it’s not a research article. But it could still be credible. Popular sources (newspapers and magazines) rarely cite sources.
Look for other clues to determine the credibility.
A list of sources is a clue that the article is credible, and can also lead you to more information. You should also look at the quality of the sources and the number of sources.
A is for Age
Is the information the right age for your needs? Is it too old? How current is current enough? For information the answer is: it depends.
Rule of Thumb
5 years, maximum: medicine, health, technology, science
10-20 years: history, literature, art
P is for Publisher : Look for publisher credentials.
Journals, Magazines, Books
Look up the name of the publisher in a search engine to find the publisher. Do they publish other things on the same subject?
Examine the site for information about the publisher, or sponsor, of the site. Often in “About Us.”
Many publishers, especially university presses, specialize in academic titles. Examples:
Oxford University Press
University of Utah Press
What does it mean for a source to be credible? Why is it important to use these sources? How can you tell if a source is credible? The following video provides ways that you can answer these questions.
libnscu. "Evaluating Sources for Credibility." Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 9 June 2015. Web. 10 October 2015.
Here is a video providing an explanation explaining the difference between popular and scholarly periodicals.
"Popular vs. Scholarly Sources" YouTube, uploaded by Hartness Library, 23 January 2017, https://youtu.be/OdfEmLOy4sM.