Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
CWU Libraries logo
Ask a Librarian chat image Ask the Libraries
Home

ENG 102 - Academic Writing II: Reasoning and Research

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).

CCOW

Scholarly cow beside the acronym CCOW: Claims, Credentials, Objectives, Worldview

Created by Anthony Tardiff, used with permission

Evaluating Websites

The CCOW method is useful for remembering different approaches for evaluating sources. Consider this as a way of thinking more than a checklist for thinking and can be used when evaluating information and sources. 

Credentials

  • What's their educational background? Do they have an advanced degree in the subject under discussion?
  • What's their occupation? Do they work in a field that qualifies them to talk about the subject?
  • 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

  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?

Objectives

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Worldview

  • Who are the authors writing this for?
  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

 

Media Bias

 

 

This image comes from AllSides and is shared here because they have conducted a thorough analysis and method in creating this. To learn more about the graphic you can visit AllSides Media Bias Chart.

 

Creating your filter bubble

Primary vs. Secondary Sources