Skip to Main Content
LaChance Library home Mount Wachusett Community College

Research Starter Toolkit

This guide will help you learn how to use library resources in order to complete your research. Here you will learn how to access library databases, journal articles, books, and more.

Evaluating Information 

The ability to critically evaluate information before using it for a given purpose (such as a research assignment) is an essential lifelong skill that will allow you to make informed decisions in a variety of contexts. 

Evaluating information is something most of us do all of the time, even if we don't realize it. 

Think about a time when you needed to gather information in order to make an important decision (For example, perhaps you were planning to make an important purchase and you researched prices and product reviews. Or, perhaps you wanted to know whether or not it was safe to get vaccinated.)

It's likely that you applied your own evaluative criteria to the information you found in order to make your decision. In this guide, we'll build on these practices and learn how to critically evaluate information for academic research purposes.

Establishing Evaluative Criteria

   Like a detective, you have to conduct an investigation whenever you're considering including information from a source in an assignment. 

In order to know whether a source is reliable, trustworthy, and appropriate for your assignment, consider asking the following questions:

Authority - Does the author have expertise on this subject?

  • Who created this information?
  • Is the author an expert on this topic? What are their credentials?
  • Is the author affiliated with a reputable publication, organization, or institution?

Accuracy - Is the information provided correct?

  • Has the source been edited or peer-reviewed?
  • Has the author supplied a list of references for their work? Does the list of references include scholarly sources?
  • Does the source include spelling or grammatical errors? Is the source logical, well organized, and professional in appearance?

​​​Purpose - Why was this information created?

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

Relevancy - Does this source meet my information needs?

  • Does the information relate to my topic or answer my question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  •  Is my topic covered comprehensively (with enough detail) or only briefly?
  • Am I able to understand and apply the information for my purposes?

Currency - Is this information up to date?

  • When was this source published or updated?
  • Does my research call for the use of very current sources (e.g. medical research) or can I use older sources (e.g. historical research)?

Investigating Your Sources

So, how can you go about answering these questions and determining whether or not your sources are credible?

Watch the video below for some helpful tips on how to investigate your sources:



Applying Evaluative Criteria

Use the Critically Evaluating Sources Worksheet below to review the sources you've compiled so far for your research project. If your sources don't meet your criteria, you may want to revise your search and/or explore other library resources. Check in with your instructor or a librarian if you have any questions.

Please CONTACT US if you have questions.