Evaluating Sources

Whether the source is a book, a magazine or newspaper article, a scholarly journal, a website, or a movie, evaluating the sources you select is an important part of being information savvy.  Every item published, online or in print, was published for a reason.  It is important to know about the source you plan to use and whether or not it is a credible source that will meet your information needs.  All credible sources have common characteristics and meet certain requirements.  The following information will help you evaluate whether or not your source is credible.

Authority or Credentials

•   Who is the author, publisher, or producer of the source?

•   What qualifies them as an expert on the topic?

•   Did they identify themselves and provide their credentials?

•   What else have they written, published, or produced?

•   What do others in their field have to say about their works?

Purpose or Reason for Publication

•   Why was the source published?

•   What purpose does it serve?

•   Who benefits from the publication of the source?

•   What benefits exist for the source's publication?

Audience or Readers

•   Who is intended to read or view the information?

Objectivity or Scope

•   Does the source contain many perspectives or is the focus very narrow?

•   Is the language used objective or subjective?

•   Is the issue looked at from many different sides and viewpoints?


•   Is the information in the source accurate or does it contain errors?

•   Does the author provide an explanation of any included inaccuracies?

Evidence or Support

•   Does the author include the works of others in the field?

•   Does the author include works from those with differing viewpoints?

•   Does the author provide references or data to support viewpoint?

Currency or Relevance

•   Is the information still current or is it outdated?

•   Is the information relevant to the topic today?


Source Evaluation Tool

Turnitin worked closely with educators to design SEER, which is built on five criteria:

  • Authority
  • Educational Value
  • Intent
  • Originality
  • Quality

SEER was field tested by secondary and higher education instructors who evaluated over 300 of the most popular sources used by students.

SEER: Source Educational Evaluation Rubric