K-12 Resources

Information for teachers and students learning to become teachers.

Library Research Guide

Evaluate Sources With the Big 5 Criteria

The Big 5 Criteria can help you evaluate your sources for credibility:

  • Currency: Check the publication date and determine whether it is sufficiently current for your topic. 
  • Coverage (relevance): Consider whether the source is relevant to your research and whether it covers the topic adequately for you needs.
  • Authority: Discover the credentials of the authors of the source and determine their level of expertise and knowledge about the subject. 
  • Accuracy: Consider whether the source presents accurate information and whether can verify that information.
  • Objectivity (purpose):Think about the author's purpose in creating the source and consider how that affects its usefulness to your research. 

person on seesaw trying to choose between yes or no

Evaluate Websites

Evaluating websites follows the same process as for other sources, but finding the information you need to make an assessment can be more challenging with websites. The following guidelines can help you decide if a website is a good choice for a source for your paper. 

  • Currency: A useful site is updated regularly and lets visitors know when content was published on the site. Can you tell when the site was last updated? Can you see when the content you need was added? Does the site show signs of not being maintained (broken links, out-of-date information, etc.)?  
  • Relevance: Think about the target audience for the site. Is it appropriate for you or your paper's audience?
  • Authority: Look for an About Us link or something similar to learn about the site's creator. The more you know about the credentials and mission of a site's creators, as well as their sources of information, the better idea you will have about the site's quality.
  • Accuracy: Does the site present references or links to the sources of information it presents? Can you locate these sources so that you can read and interpret the information yourself?
  • Purpose: Consider the reason why the site was created. Can you detect any bias? Does the site use emotional language? Is the site trying to persuade you about something?