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Evaluating Sources

It is important to always evaluate the sources to be used in an essay. When evaluating sources, a writer is gauging whether or not each source is trustworthy enough to provide information that is appropriate to the topic as well as is credible to be used as supporting evidence.

In the first step to identify the credibility and usefulness of a source, determine these:

• the author’s intentions

• context or reputation

• subject matter

• intended audience

• timeliness

It is also essential to test the accuracy, relevance, sufficiency and representation of the sources. Ultimately, the writer should question any assumptions apparent in each source.


Is it exact? Correct? Complete? Reliable?


Does it relate directly to the claim or opinion it supports? Is it credible?


Is there enough evidence to be convincing?


Are typical examples used rather than exceptions to the rule?


Validity: Is the argument well-founded?

Challengeable: Can the argument be challenged easily?