Evaluating Your Sources

Christian Leuprecht

Hon. B.A., D.É.A., M.A., M.A., Ph.D. (Queen's)



  • When was the work published?
  • Do you need the latest information or historical data?
  • Do you know when the information was created and/or updated?


  • Does the work attempt to be comprehensive or is it selective?
  • In the context of your research, is the work primary (original, uninterpreted information) or secondary (interpretive, summary, and analytic)?
  • Does the work raise questions it doesn't answer?


  • Does the work contain data that needs to be checked elsewhere?
  • Is the source of data used indicated somewhere in the work?


  • Who is the intended audience for this work?
  • Is the work trying to persuade or to inform?
  • Does it use language that is emotional or neutral?
  • Is it scholarly, intended for an academic or professional audience?
  • Is it aimed at the general public?

Did you find the kinds of sources appropriate for your need or assignment? Here is a checklist for evaluating a variety of sources. Select those that are appropriate to your need(s).


  • Who is the author of the work?
  • What do you know about the author? Are credentials provided?
  • What else has this author published?
  • How long have they been publishing?
  • Is this their special subject, or are there others?
  • Does s/he publish in journals or magazines or both? Books?
  • Does this author's works appear only on Web pages?