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Philosophy & Religious Studies

Source Evaluation Tips

When evaluating information there are a few items you want to look for and consider. Some areas of an article to look at right away include:

  1. Intended audience (Who would be likely to read this and why? What is the purpose of the article or periodical?)
    • Reading level (Does the writing use simple language or jargon? How difficult is it to read?)
  2. Authors (Can you find the expertise or credentials of the authors?)
  3. Reliability/accuracy (What evidence of either can you identify?)
  4. Footnotes or citations (Are the sources cited at the end of the article?)

For more tips on evaluating sources, check out our guide on using the CCOW Method (Credentials, Claims, Objectives, and Worldview).

Evaluating Sources Using the CCOW Method

CCOW: credentials, claims, objectives, worldview

Credentials - Investigate the credentials of whoever created the information with questions like:

  • Do they have experience or expertise in the subject they're discussing? Do they work in a field that qualifies them to talk about the subject?
  • What's their educational background? Do they have an advanced degree in the subject under discussion?
  • Do they have any other experience that might make them a good source of information? For instance, an eyewitness to an earthquake doesn't have to be a seismologist to give good information about what it was like to experience that event.

Claims - What claims are they making? Is the information they're providing accurate? Can we verify its accuracy?

Objectives - What did they hope to accomplish by creating the information?

Worldview - This element is connected to objectives in that it deals with bias and examining potential bias behind a publication. Every source will have some degree of bias and that's expected, the questions you're asking here are: How does this source frame the situation? What language are they using that helps me understand their perspective or worldview?

Primary vs. Secondary Sources