A web-based tutorial for English Composition students
In the Know
Owens Library, Northwest Missouri State University

In today's information age, the challenge is to sort through a huge amount of sources available and identify those that are reliable and appropriate. Whether you find information in books and periodicals, on the Internet, or on television, you cannot assume it is reliable. You are responsible for evaluating information and judging its quality.

Evaluation Criteria


  • The source should provide the name, education, or experience of the authors or sponsors and tell you why they are qualified to write about this subject.
  • Sources that do not give this information have questionable reliability.


  • The information should be published at a time appropriate for the subject matter discussed.


  • The author should support his or her statements with data or references to research.
  • If there is not a list of "Works Cited," verify this information in other sources and cite those sources in your paper.


  • Read the source you are evaluating to avoid using sources that are biased.
  • Choose at least some articles that are peer-reviewed or refereed or come from scholarly journals that report research.
  • Verify that an authoritative organization (a government agency, an educational institution, or an unbiased organization ) sponsors a Web site.
  • Establish that a Web site has a list of criteria that must be met before material is included.


  • Select sources that include the information you need and are written at a level you can understand.
Last updated on 09-14-2005