6-Evaluating Sources


A checklist on a clipboard
Consider how well a source covers your topic.

Figuring out whether a website or other source is suitable for your purpose also means looking at how thoroughly it covers your topic

You can evaluate thoroughness in relation to other sources on the same topic. Compare your source to how other sources cover the material, checking for missing topics or perspectives.






Clues About Thoroughness

Click around a site to get some idea of how thoroughly it covers the topic. If the source you are evaluating is a print resource, read the introduction and conclusion and also the table of contents to get a glimpse of what it covers. Look at the index to see what subject is covered with the most pages. Is it thorough enough to meet your information need?

Tip: Related Sites

Use Google to find other sites on the same topic by entering related:[the URL of the site you know] in the search box.

For example: related:guides.osu.edu

Use this technique to browse other sites Google turns up. Do other sites cover aspects of the topic that are missing from the site you are evaluating? Or does your site stack up pretty well against the competition?

Activity: Comparing Websites

Open activity in a web browser.

Making the Inference

Consider the clues. Then decide the extent that the source’s thoroughness is acceptable for your purpose. It might help to grade the extent that this factor contributes to the source being suitable on a scale like this one:

  • A – Very Acceptable
  • B – Good, but could be better
  • C – OK in a pinch
  • D – Marginal
  • F – Unacceptable

You’ll want to make a note of the source‚Äôs grade for thoroughness so you can combine it later with the grades you give the other factors.


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Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research by Teaching & Learning, Ohio State University Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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