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Evaluating Sources for Credibility

check list

Find an interesting website on the internet? Not sure if you can use it for academic research? It is not always easy to determine if information on the internet is credible, accurate and college-level appropriate. Review the criteria for evaluating the credibility of a source by selecting the tabs above to assess the sources you have found for your research project.

Ask the following questions to assess whether the author of your source is an authority on the topic:

  • Who are the authors? What are their credentials?
  • With whom are they affiliated? Does their affiliation affect their credibility?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor? What is their reputation?

Ask the following questions to assess the accuracy of the information provided in your source:

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Ask the following questions to assess the currency of the information provided in your source:

  • When was the information published or produced? Will dated information still be relevant to my research project? 
  • With web-based articles, how many dead links appear on the site? Does the site still receive regular updates appropriate to the content?

Ask the following questions to assess the objectivity of your source:

  • Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda? Is it written to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Is the information well-researched? Is there a bibliography or citations or references at the end?
  • Is the language overtly biased or well balanced? Are multiple viewpoints discussed or just one?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the author objective and un-biased? Bias isn’t always disqualifying, but you will always want to be aware of what the author’s bias is.
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

Note that an author's biases or objectives can skew the accuracy of the information provided.

Ask the following questions to assess the coverage of your source:

  • Is the information relevant to your topic and assignment?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the material presented at an appropriate level?
  • Is the information complete? 


Wikipedia LogoWikipedia is a great tool for a summary of a topic. Wikipedia content is constantly revised, and entries vary in quality. Some of the content is excellent, some is questionable.

Many educators frown on the use of Wikipedia. Why?

  • Wikipedia content is not necessarily written by subject experts, and may be inadequate or incorrect.
  • Articles in Wikipedia may be changed or deleted between viewings.
  • For research papers, you need authoritative resources, so it is absolutely necessary to consult other sources.
  • Anyone can search Google or find a Wikipedia article. To demonstrate academic skill, it is important to go beyond these basic tools.

How can you use Wikipedia in a way that benefits your research process?

  • Scan the article to get general information and terms you can use as keywords for further searching.
  • Scan the article for references. Sometimes these can lead you to excellent books or articles that you can find at the LCC Library or in the Summit catalog.
  • Don't reference Wikipedia articles in your paper, unless you are pointing out something specific to Wikipedia.
  • As you read Wikipedia articles, you may read notations that call for more evidence, or call attention to bias. These are very constructive principles that apply to your own work. What if Wikipedia editors read your work? Would they mark areas for revision?

Web sites for Art and Art History

Below are recommended resources for art and art history research and study.

These websites are fantastic for viewing artists' works: