Skip to Main Content

Information Literacy : Evaluating Sources

A Guide to Information Literacy: What is it? Where can I go to get answers about it? Why does it matter?

Sources: Primary vs. Secondary vs. Tertiary



Starters Not Finishers

While these are great places to gain some knowledge, they should not to be cited as references in your class papers.

Wikipedia (can be written and/or updated by anyone)
Google (missing out on important information; popularity contest (relevancy ranking: metadata, number of views, etc.))
Blogs (can be written by anyone)
Tertiary literature sources (great for background information)

Evaluating Sources of Information

Choose your sources carefully.  They reflect you and your research efforts.  Consider the following:


Is the author / publisher / sponsor of the information reputable?

Where did the author get the information?

Are there references, citations, and / or a bibliography included with the information?

Has the information provided been frequently cited by others?


Is the information provided accurate?

Can the information provided be verified elsewhere?


When was the information published?

Are you using the most up-to-date version of the information?


Why does this information exist?  Entertain, persuade, inform, other?

Is the information biased?


Is the information understandable, logical, consistent?


Is the information provided in enough depth and detail for your project?


Is the information relevant to your project?

Does the information support your project?


Who is the intended reader and/or user of the information?

Student, professional, consumer, customer, other?

Peer Reviewed Articles

A peer reviewed article is a scholarly document that has been submitted to an external publisher. The publisher internally reviewed the article and agreed that it has merit. The publisher sent the article without identifying the author(s) to known subject matter experts, around the world, in the field for the information covered in the article. The subject matter experts reviewed the article to ensure that it is accurate, reliable, worthy, and properly presented. The subject matter experts provided critical feedback to the publisher about the article. The publisher reviewed the feedback and deemed that the article still has merit. The publisher forwarded the comments to the author(s) and requested any changes. The author(s) acted upon the feedback and re-submitted the revised article to the publisher. The review cycle may be repeated a few times until both the publisher and the author(s) are satisfied. The publisher publishes the peer reviewed article with the names of the author(s) on it.

Tip For Finding Peer Reviewed Articles

To find peer reviewed articles In EBSCOhost databases, such as Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, ERIC, GreenFILE, Medline, etc., simply click on the Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journal box on either the initial search page or in the "Refine Results" section while viewing search results.