This is a JavaScript menu. Please enable scripts in your browser. Skip to Main Content

ENGL 1B-Martinez, A.: Credible Sources

Quick Tips for Assessing Source Credibility

  • Identify who’s behind the information- Who is the author/creator and publisher/disseminator of the information? Read the About section on the site and any parent sites as well as for information on the author(s).
  • What do others think of them?- Google the author/disseminator. What do well-known sources have to say about their credibility and purpose?
  • Track down original source material- Is a specific survey, study or set of statistics mentioned? Try to track down the original and come to your own conclusions: do not rely on second-hand interpretations.
  • Listen to your intuition- Does something not seem right about the source? (Strange wording, claims that seem exaggerated, etc.). Check Google to see what other resources have to say about the issue, claim, etc.

Coronavirus video example

Is this video credible? Why?

  • Who is the "author" or creator of the video? Who is presenting the information?
  • Who published the video? What website is it from?
  • Where does the information come from? Do they cite their sources?

Website Evaluation Tutorial

Are you considering using a website for a research assignment?

Not all websites are appropriate for academic research and you need to examine them carefully in order to determine if the information is accurate, credible, and supports your research assignment.

Websites can be created by anyone and facts, images, and videos can be easily altered. Websites have to be carefully evaluated for use in your research assignments. Also be sure to ask your instructor if they will accept a website as a source for your research assignment.

There are countless websites available on various topics, but how do you determine what websites are the best to use? There are four main questions you want to ask yourself when critically examining a website in order to determine if it is appropriate for your research assignment: 

WHO created the website?

WHAT type of website is it and what is the website's domain?

WHEN was the information on the website last updated?

WHY was the website created?

Hartness Library. "Credible Websites" YouTube. YouTube, June 22, 2012. Web. 22 Oct. 2014. A transcript is in the process of being created for this video. If you need assistance, please contact the Reference Librarian at

WHO created the website?​

  • What company, organization or person created the website? Was the information posted by a business, a researcher in the field, or a layperson?
  • Is the author a subject specialist in their field, what is their educational background, and have they published books or articles on the topic?
  • Is there contact information for the creator or sponsor of the site such as an email address or a phone number? 
  • Anyone can create a website or blog and post whatever information they want, whether it is true or not, so having contact information available shows that the website is more credible and accountable. Hint: Best place to look for the website creator's information is at the bottom or top of the page or under the About, Information, Mission or FAQs (frequently asked questions) section of the website.

WHAT type of website is it and WHAT is the website's domain?

There are certain types of websites that are highly regulated and tend to be more appropriate for research assignments, such as websites with the .edu and .gov domains. That is because educational .edu and government .gov websites can only be issued to an educational organization or a government organization and their content is under more scrutiny and oversight. They can provide original research and information on that topic for government and academic purposes and are not motivated by sales, but educational .edu and government .gov websites can still have bias or a particular viewpoint on a topic. For example, if you look at The White House website you can see that all the information is government related and there are no ads on the site.

Keep in mind that any website you use for research purposes should always be carefully evaluated, even if it is a .edu or .gov website.

WHEN was the information on the website last updated?

  • How current the information is on a website or when it was last updated is dependent on your research topic. Sometimes your professor will ask that you use sources from the last few years. 
  • If you are researching a current, controversial issue, you need to have the most up to date information. Especially if your topic is related to changes in the law or recent scientific discoveries.
  • Try looking at the bottom of the webpage or the top of the article to see when the information was posted or last updated.
  • Also look on the webpage for links to references and articles that show where the information came from and make sure to click on the links to see if they actually work.

WHY was the website created?

Examining the motives of the website creator will help you to determine if there is a particular viewpoint or bias in providing that information. For example commercial websites, such as a .com or .net, are generally going to be motivated to sell you something or to advertise their product, so you need to be aware of that in terms of determining if the website's information is accurate and appropriate to use for a research assignment.

Consider why the author posted the information on the website. Critically thinking about why the information was posted, helps you determine if the website is appropriate to use for your research assignment:

  • Inform - the author is simply stating informational facts.
  • Explain - the author is explaining a subject.
  • Entertain - the author is attempting to entertain the reader.
  • Persuade - the author is striving to change your point of view on a topic
  • Sell - the author is trying to get you to purchase something
Chaffey College • 5885 Haven Avenue, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91737 - 3002 • 909/652-6000
 Powered by Springshare • LibApps LoginFeedbackBI SurveyLibrary Activities