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Rhetoric & Media Studies: Main

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How to Evaluate Resources (Print & Electronic)


Italics indicates special criteria for Internet resources

1. Reason

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is scope or purpose specifically stated? Do the contents match the stated scope?
  • Is the point of view stated? Is there a particular agenda that is being pushed?
  • Does it have an established reputation? If so, consider what kind of reputation it represents?
  • What is the host's motivation for providing the information on the Web?
    (Advertising for profit, part of agency's mission, educational purposes, reporting original research, publicizing a particular agenda)
  • What information can be gained about the site domain code of the host address?
  • .com = commercial source
  • .gov = government agency
  • .org = non-profit organization
  • .net = consortium (profit or non-profit)
  • .edu = educational institution


  • Is the text well written? Is it written in the language of the discipline or for a general audience?
  • Does the source have features, such as charts, illustrations, or a bibliography, that will be helpful?
  • Is the information needed to cite the material easily found?
  • Is there a lot of information available or is the information it provides limited?
  • Are links to other Web resources labeled clearly?

3. Reliability

  • Is objectivity a factor?
  • Who is the author?
  • Does the author provide credentials demonstrating expertise or knowledge of the subject?
  • Is the publisher reputable?
  • Does the resource contain grammatical, spelling or typographical errors?
  • Is there any contact information provided?
  • Are facts, such as statistics, accurate, current, and verifiable? Are sources of information cited?
  • What sources or methods did the author use to gather the information?
  • Is the method of obtaining data accurate and dependable?
  • Is it refereed/peer-reviewed or did just a staff editor review it? Peer-review means a scholar or researcher in the related field has reviewed it before publication.
  • How frequently is the resource updated?
  • Are the links to other resources current? And is the page finished or still under construction?

4. References

  • Does the author list where they get their information from
    (e.g. footnotes, bibliography, or reference list)? 
  • Are there many sources listed?
  • Are the author's sources reliable?
  • Can you follow their listed sources to obtain the original information sources?

Reference Librarian

Gary Klein
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Willamette University
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