VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Evaluate My Sources

Welcome!

As you search for information, it's important to understand whether or not the sources you're using are appropriate for the type of research you're doing. This guide will help you identify different types of sources and offer tips for critically evaluating them.

chat loading...

How can I tell if a source is trustworthy?

Before trusting a source of any type, always ask these questions first:

  • Who is the author? Are they a subject expert or professional journalist? What are their credentials? Can you find any conflicts of interest when you search the internet with their name and employer?
  • What are the sources cited? Can you find the original source or image? If not, be cautious. If you can, does the article twist the meaning of the original source or instead describe it accurately?
  • When is the publication date? Is the article recent enough to be accurate? Does it refer to an entirely different incident that happened years before?
  • Where was the source published? Does the journal/organization have a political leaning or ties to groups likely to have bias (for example, a Catholic group writing about abortion)?
  • Why was the source published? Is the purpose of the information to sell something or influence you, or to inform and educate?