Source evaluation  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Source evaluation is the skill of analysing information sources in order to assess their credibility. The ability to assess different sources of information is highly relevant to the task of operating within a complex information society. Engeldinger (1998) uses the term information literacy in order to describe the ability to recognize information when it is found, and further to determine if it is the best, most accurate, or most current information available.


Types of information

Information sources might be:

  • Textual or literary sources: articles, books, brochures, pamphlets.
  • Audio sources: audio-interviews, soundclips.
  • Audio-visual sources: Tv-programs, Documentary movies.

Criteria for evaluating information

The following criteria for source evaluation is taken from the American Library Association (1994) and Engeldinger (1988):

  1. How was the source located?
  2. What type of source is it?
  3. Who is the author and what are the qualifications of the author in regard to the topic that is discussed?
  4. When was the information published?
  5. In which country was it published?
  6. What is the reputation of the publisher?
  7. Does the source show a particular cultural or political bias?

For literary sources we might add complementing criteria:

  1. Does the source contain a bibliography?
  2. Has the material been reviewed by a group of peers, or has it been edited?
  3. How does the article/book compare with similar articles/books?


  • American Library Association (1994) Evaluating Information: A Basic Checklist. Brochure. American Library Association
  • Engeldinger, Eugene A. (1988) Bibliographic Instruction and Critical Thinking: The Contribution of the Annotated Bibliography. Research Quarterly, Vol. 28, Winter, p. 195-202
  • Engeldinger, Eugene A. (1998) Technology Infrastructure and Information Literacy. Library Philosophy and Practice Vol. 1, No. 1

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Source evaluation" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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