Evaluate sources before committing to them, but this doesn’t have to be time consuming. Ask yourself two questions: Is the source trustworthy? And is the source suitable? Not every suitable source is trustworthy, and not every trustworthy source is suitable.
Consider the following: will this source help me answer the research questions that I am posing in my project? Will it help me learn as much as I can about my topic? Will it help me write an interesting, convincing essay for my readers?
Trustworthiness of sources may not be as easy to determine, especially if you’re in a hurry, aren’t paying attention, or haven’t kept an open mind and/or acknowledged your own biases. Pay attention to things like:
When the source was published / last updated - look for the most recent research on your topic but it could be acceptable to use older material.
The degree of bias in the source - is the author making an attempt to stay objective and include various points of view?
Whether or not the author supports what they’re saying with evidence - if the author makes claims without citing them, find something else. (Source)
Evaluating Sources for Credibility Video (3:14)
Evaluation Strategy: Lateral Reading
Lateral reading is a quick and easy way to evaluate sources, especially ones you find on the open internet. This short video explains what lateral reading is and how to do it. It's a strategy that can even be useful in your everyday life.
A Note about Wikipedia
Wikipedia is rarely an acceptable source to cite in a college research paper. However, Wikipedia is a wonderful source for background information about research topics and a source for some of the research already done on certain topics.