1. Who is/are the author(s)?
A credible source is either written by the author(s) with a degree or other credentials or can be written by an organization. If no author or organization is named, the source will not be viewed as credible.
2. Does the source provide references?
Credible authors will cite their sources for accuracy of and support for what they have written. Citing other reliable sources is a sign of credibility. This is also a good way to find more sources for your own research.
3. How recent is the source?
Seeking recent sources depends on your topic. While sources on past wars may be decades old and still contain accurate information, sources on information technologies, or other areas that are experiencing rapid changes, need to be much more current.
4. What is the author’s purpose?
When deciding which sources to use, you should take the purpose or point of view of the author into consideration. Is the author presenting a neutral, unbiased view of a topic or is the author supporting one side of a topic? You need to be careful that your sources do not limit your coverage of a topic to one side of a debate.
5. Who is your intended audience?
If you are writing for professional or academic audience, peer-reviewed journals are seen as one of the most credible sources of information.
Be careful when evaluating Internet sources!
Never use a website where an author cannot be determined, unless the site is associated with a reputable institution such as a respected university, a credible media outlet (e.g. CBS & CNN), government program or department, or well-known non-governmental organizations. Beware of using sites like Wikipedia, which are collaboratively developed by users who can add or change content. The validity of information on such sites may not meet the standards for academic research.