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Library DIY: Evaluating resources

Get answers to your library and research questions here


Remember the 5 W's (who, what, when, where, and why) as you conduct any type of research.

You may not be able to apply all five W's to every resource you find, but these should help you decide if a source is worthy of your trust.


  • Is the author's name listed?
  • What are the author's credentials?
  • Is the author qualified to write about the topic?
  • Is contact information listed for the author?
  • Is the information published by an organization or company?
  • Is the source relevant to your research?
  • What field of study is the source from?
  • Has the source been reviewed by someone else before publication? (known as peer-review)
  • How recently was the source published?
  • When was it last updated?


Example: Health-related articles more than five years old can be severely outdated, as can technology resources. History resources should hold their relevance longer.

Take note of where the article was published (ex. academic journal, newspaper, magazine, trade publication, etc.)

For web resources, you might want to limit the domains you search in.

  • .com (generic, top-level domain)
  • .edu (educational institutions)
  • .gov (U.S. government agencies or entities)
  • .org (top-level domain, usually non-profit organizations and individuals)
  • .net (network infrastructure machines and organizations)
  • .biz (usually intended for businesses)
  • .info (unrestricted domain)
  • What is the author's purpose in writing this?
  • Does this information add new knowledge to the topic?
  • Is the author providing facts, sharing an opinion, or promoting a product?


Above image adapted from The National Archives (United Kingdom) (The National Archives (United Kingdom) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Video | Evaluating Resources

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