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WRT 101S - Communities - Desert Vista --Higgins: Source Evaluation

How to Find Credible Sources

In this checklist, look for signs and indicators that your source is credible, knowledgeable and bias-free.


  • What type of source is this (web, book, journal article, etc)?
  • Is it published by a reputable organization? Is this organization impartial or position-based? What do they gain from persuading you on this topic?
  • Do you detect bias or prejudice in the language?


  • Is there an author listed?
  • What can you learn about this author? What else as he/she written? Where do they work? What is the basis of their expertise?


  • Is the purpose of this source to inform, persuade, entertain or some other purpose?


  • Does the source expect the reader to have an opinion? If so, what?
  • Does this source assume the audience is informed on the topic or just learning?


  • What does the language of the source tell you about the audience or its purpose? Is it for professionals, kids, general audience adults, or someone else?
  • Does this source use specialized terminology? How well can you understand it?


  • Are there errors in the presentation? Broken links? Ads? Weird stuff? Comments?
  • Does the language appear professional or amateurish?


  • When was this source published? Is the information still relevant?

       Critical Thinking


  • Does the information or argument posed in this source make sense? Do you see the fallacies or gaps in logic? Can you can you easily think of ways to dismiss the source’s position?

Fact Check

  • Can you find reviews or commentary on this source?
  • Can you crosscheck the information in other sources?

Creative Commons License

Adapted from a work created by Eric Aldrich, Pima Community College, Tucson, AZ

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

"The Four Moves"

  • Check for previous work: Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research.
  • Go upstream to the source: Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Most web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
  • Read laterally: Read laterally.[1] Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
  • Circle back: If you get lost, hit dead ends, or find yourself going down an increasingly confusing rabbit hole, back up and start over knowing what you know now. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions.   (Adapted from Michael Caufield's Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers)

CRAP TEST (Adapted from Molly Beestrum)

The CRAP Test, developed by Molly Beestrum, is a helpful tool to use when trying to decide if a website is a credible, valid source. The CRAP Test looks at four major areas: currency, reliability, authority and purpose. When determining whether a website is credible or not, evaluate it on those four areas. Here are a few suggestions to help you think through your evaluation process.

  • How recent is the information?
  • How recently has the website been updated?
  • Is it current enough for your topic?


  • What kind of information is included in the resource?
  • Is content of the resource primarily opinion?  Is is balanced?
  • Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?


  •  Who is the creator or author?
  • What are the credentials? Can you find any information about the author's background?
  • Who is the published or sponsor?
  • Are they reputable?
  • What is the publisher's interest (if any) in this information?
  • Are there advertisements on the website? If so, are they cleared marked?

Purpose/Point of View

  • Is this fact or opinion? Does the author list sources or cite references?
  • Is it biased? Does the author seem to be trying to push an agenda or particular side?
  • Is the creator/author trying to sell you something? If so, is it clearly stated?

HTTP Security

Why is HTTP not secure?  From

HTTP vs. HTTPS: What are the differences?

HTTPS is HTTP with encryption. The only difference between the two protocols is that HTTPS uses TLS (SSL) to encrypt normal HTTP requests and responses. As a result, HTTPS is far more secure than HTTP. A website that uses HTTP has http:// in its URL, while a website that uses HTTPS has https://.