Currency: The timeliness of the information.
- When was the information published or posted? Why does this matter for your question?
- Has the information been revised or updated? Can you provide the date?
- Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic? How can you tell?
- Are the links functional? *
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
- Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question? How?
- Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper? Why? How much?
- Who is the intended audience? Children? Adults? Professionals?
- Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)? How can you tell?
- Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
Authority: The source of the information.
- Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor? Write down at least one author’s name.
- What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations? Why does that matter?
- What are the author’s qualifications to write on the topic?
- Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address? What are their contact details?
- What does the URL or domain reveal about the author or source? *Examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net *
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content.
- Where does the information come from? Qualitative or quantitative research? Interviews? Personal knowledge?
- Is the information supported by evidence? Give some examples.
- Has the information been reviewed or refereed? How do you know?
- Can you verify any of the information in another source or from your own personal knowledge? How?
- Is there a list of references? What does that tell you?
- Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion? Provide some examples.
- Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors? What does that tell you?
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
- What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade? How can you tell? What clues did you find?
- Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purposes clear? How?
- Is the information fact? Opinion? Propaganda? How can you tell?
- Does the point of view appear objective and impartial? How can you tell?
- Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases? Does it make a difference? Why?
Key: *indicates criteria for Web only