How to Research

Evaluating Sources

No matter what your source is or where you find it, you'll want to do some basic evaluation to determine if the information is credible and relevant to your topic. Make sure to look especially closely at websites--they can be excellent sources of information but they do need to be checked for accuracy! The steps for two different evaluation methods are provided below.


Use the five criteria of the TRAAP test to determine whether a source is appropriate for your research.


  • When was it published?
  • Has it been updated recently?
  • Does your topic require current info?
  • Are there any broken links?


  • Does it relate to your topic?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is it too basic for your needs? Too advanced?
  • Have you looked at other sources?


  • Who is the author/publisher/sponsor?
  • What are their credentials?
  • What are their affiliations?
  • Is contact information provided?


  • Are claims backed by evidence?
  • Can it be verified by another source?
  • Has it been reviewed, either by an editor or through peer review?
  • Are there spelling/grammar errors?


  • Why was this published--to inform, sell, entertain, or persuade?
  • Is it fact, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Is it objective and impartial?
  • Is there any obvious bias?

If your source doesn't meet these five criteria, it might be a TRAAP!

SIFT Method

There's more than one way to evaluate a source. The SIFT Method was created specifically for web sources and takes a fact-checking approach.

  • Stop
  • Investigate the source
  • Find better coverage
  • Trace claims, quotes and media to the original context