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* Toolbox Information literacy skills: Search, Find and Evaluate Sources: Evaluating/Assessing sources

Searching,finding, evaluating and managing sources made easy

Evaluating your sources, how to go about this.

After you have found your sources, we want to highlight why it is important to assess the quality of your sources. The quality and relevance of a source are not measured by what type of source it is (see the previous page) but heavily rely on who wrote the information down, what was the purpose of publishing the information in the first place, and does it actually fit your need regarding your research.  The knowledge clips and texts you find here will give you several criteria and guidelines for assessing your sources on the basis of these criteria.

In your search for literature and other sources, you will find all sorts of information, but this information is not always accurate or of good quality. It is important to develop a critical eye that will enable you to evaluate the material properly.

Relevance: The extent to which the information contributes to answering the search question.

When assessing, pay attention to:

Content and level



Reliability: the degree to which you can trust that the information is correct.
When assessing, pay attention to:

The source (author/organization) and the creation of the document

Content: the accuracy, objectivity, verifiability, and quality of the information source

In order to practice these skills you can find worksheets below.

When is information relevant?
Information is relevant when the information contributes to answering the research question or context. You assess the information found on content, level, and timeliness.

Questions about the relevance of information on content and level

You can ask the following questions about how the information meets your needs.

  • For whom is the information intended? (Who is the intended audience?)
  • Is the information objective (fact) or subjective (opinion)? And, are the opinions substantiated?
  • Is the information at the right level? (Not too easy or too difficult?)
  • Did you look at different sources before deciding to use these sources?
  • Would you be comfortable quoting these sources in the research?
  • The important thing is that the quality and level of information fit your (research) question and objective.

Helpful questions about the relevance of information on topicality
Questions you can ask about the timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does the data from the information source match the current situation?
  • Are the links still working?

NB! An older book or article may be current to your topic!

When is information reliable?

The reliability of information sources is about the degree to which you can trust that the information is accurate. You judge the information found on the authority of the source, the accuracy of the information, and the purpose of the information. 

Reliability questions: the source of information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Is the author an authority on the subject? What demonstrates that authority (background, education and/or image?)?
  • What organization is the author associated with? Has the author been quoted by others?
  • What do you know about the organization? Does the organization have a good reputation? (A publication from a respected organization is more likely to be trusted than one with vague or unclear goals)
  • Who funds the author or organization? Do commercial interests come into play?
  • Are there contact details? (Editor's address or e-mail address)
  • Does the URL say anything about the author or source? (.com, .edu, .gov, .org, .net)

Additional questions reliability of information: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is the purpose informative or does the author want to persuade, entertain, sell, etc. the reader?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions clear?
  • Are facts, opinions, or propaganda being communicated?
  • Does the author's point of view appear objective and unbiased?
  • Does the source's point of view contain political, ideological, cultural, religious institutional, or personal biases or distortions?
  • Is the topic presented from multiple angles?

Additional questions information reliability: on the accuracy and verifiability of information


  • Is the data in the information source correct? (Check whether the data is supported by information from other sources)
  • Is the information supported by evidence?


  • Is there a source citation?
  • What is the quality of the source citation?
  • Has the information been reviewed?
  • Can you verify the information based on other sources or your own knowledge about it?
  • Are there spelling errors, grammatical errors, or other typographical errors?

In this video, the CRAAP test is used to see whether a source can be useful or not. However, the first letter here is not a C for Currency, it is here replaced by the letter T for timeliness which both refers to the same thing when scrutinizing your sources.

ANU Library. (2020, May 20). Evaluating information sources [Video]. YouTube.

This video gives a clear explanation of how to assess sources using the CRAAP test

McMaster Libraries. (2015, January 23). How library stuff works: How to evaluate resources (the CRAAP test) [Video]. YouTube.

Gumber Library. (2016, July 22). Reading for research [Video]. YouTube.

Sketchy EBM. (2015, August 10). How I read a paper! [Video]. YouTube.

De Jager-Loftus, D. (2014, January 31). Annotated Bibliography Lesson Part 1 [Video]. YouTube.

Test yourself and practical tools