How to Evaluate the Information Sources You Find

Evaluating the authority, usefulness, and reliability of the information you find is a crucial step in the process of library research. The questions you ask about books, periodical articles, multimedia titles, or Web pages are similar whether you're looking at a citation to the item, a physical item in hand, or an electronic version on a computer.

All Sources

Critically Analyzing Information Sources lists some of the questions you should ask when you consider the appropriateness of a particular book, article, media resource, or Web site for your research.

Evaluating Books

Use book reviews to gather critical information about books. Three quick ways to access them online [Cornell users only]:

More sources for book reviews --> Book Reviews: A Finding Guide.

Evaluating Periodicals

  • Distinguishing Scholarly from Other Periodicals shows how to evaluate periodicals by looking at their format, intended audience, and appearance.
  • Magazines for Libraries. Cheryl LaGuardia, editor. Annual New York: Bowker.
    Call number: Olin Reference Z 6941 .K21 +. Latest edition shelved behind the Olin reference desk
    Evaluations of journals, magazines, and newspapers. Earlier editions in the Uris Library Stacks.

Evaluating Data Sources

"Become Data Literate in 3 Simple Steps" shows how to evaluate the numbers used in articles, books, and the media.

Source: Understanding Data, part of The Data Journalism Handbook, Version 1.0 beta online.

Evaluating Web Sites

Evaluating Web Pages: Questions to Ask & Strategies for Getting the Answers is an excellent guide from UC Berkeley.

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